Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy

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Comments on the Pages

  • undead (27 comments)

    • Comment by David Parry on September 16th, 2009

      I am not convinced, that the problem isn’t the book form, that the pages no longer turn well, that it is more than the production and dissemination that is a problem here, something that might be glossed over a little to quickly here. Or, at least I think it is worth considering the notion that “the book” is simply not up to the task.

      I’ll save longer comments on this idea until I read chapter three which I sense addresses this issue more directly, but for now let me just raise the issue. A book carries with it, beyond its material structure, a set of ideological biases about how knowledge operates, that might be heterogenous to the way knowledge is produced and disseminated online. Just to take one example: a book is a completed finished process. A blog isn’t a book, a book isn’t a blog (even if the book is digital and the blog, if we could imagine it as such is analog), and that maybe each form enables a different type, indeed demands a different type of scholarship. So, the book cannot just undergo a digital facelift, no matter how radical that reconstruction, the book might just not be up to the task.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 20th, 2009

      Absolutely — and you’re right that chapter 3 (as well as 2, to some extent) deals with the issues you raise.  This is one of my moments, though, of attempting to avoid preaching solely to the converted.  For the kind of work you and I want to do, no, the book doesn’t work — but I think I need to work cautiously into “the book doesn’t work” to avoid alienating the predominantly analog reader.

      Comment by Julie Levin Russo on September 27th, 2009

      Wait, you have to finish the story! Give us a little more about the happy ending, even if it’s just that you found another press with a better match between their sales priorities and your manuscript.

      Comment by Julie Levin Russo on September 27th, 2009

      I love your zombie footnote, and I actually think you’re minimizing the significance of the undead figure her. Own it! This is *precisely* an example of the autopoetic life forms spawned by capitalism — an apparatus that drives production irregardless of viability. (Speaking of academic monographs, my BFF is writing one about the critical theory of undeadness, forthcoming.)

      Comment by Julie Levin Russo on September 28th, 2009

      And also, perhaps, because rather than obsolescing as planned, Planned Obsolescence continues very much alive and in fact ultimately evolved into this very book?! (See also: Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, “The Enduring Ephemeral, or the Future Is a Memory,” Critical Inquiry, Vol. 35, No. 1 (Autumn 2008): 148-171.)

      Comment by Laura Blankenship on September 28th, 2009

      Is there a connection to be made to zombie banks? There’s this idea, of course, that some banks are too big to fail. Is academic publishing too big, too important to fail and yet, like the banking system, needs to change.  A stretch in terms of metaphor, perhaps.

      Comment by Natalia Cecire on September 28th, 2009

      Oh, goodness, yes, the zombie note is fantastic. I would love to see more on it too.

      Comment by CarlosElio on September 28th, 2009

      Felicitous coincidence that you talk about the survival of the Academy. Plato’s Academy has survived in spirit for over 2500 years, and it did it without a press backing up its intellectual production. Of course, there were fewer things competing for attention of the Athenian intelligence. That is no longer the case. In a world congested by millions of events that demand attention, an inert book that pretends to communicate something of value may not have what it takes to survive. The open format of this work is another thing. It allows the reader to participate in the reading. That may be the future of publishing: books that allow readers to create the book.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      Good point!  The conclusion would go something like this:

      Despite the fact that The Anxiety of Obsolescence was finally published — by a smaller press with more modest sales expectations, and one for whom the book represented a real labor of love — my experience…

      The irony, of course, is that the book actually did sell enough copies that it would have been considered successful (or at least a non-failure) by that other press, too.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      If only academic publishing really were too big to fail!  I think part of the problem is precisely that it’s seen administratively as being expendable, while it’s absolutely crucial to scholars.  How to resolve that — well that’s the slightly-more-than-$64,000 question…

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      Precisely what I’m hoping!

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      Ooh, excellent reference — thanks so much, Julie!

      Comment by Goose on October 7th, 2009

      A very minor suggestion: explaining that Joyce’s Afternoon and Moulthrop’s Victory Garden are hypertext productions before getting into the details of Apple’s lack of backward compatibility would be helpful; it’s obvious from context once you get a few lines down, but I had to re-read a few times to clear up the confusion for sure.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 9th, 2009

      Good point; this is one of those moments where I forgot I’m not preaching to the choir.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 10th, 2009

      I just spotted this on Salon this morning: “What’s with all the zombies?” The zeitgeist, indeed!

      Comment by idealrealist on October 19th, 2009

      It seems to me that allowing the reader to participate in this way through digital technology gives new depth to the old discussion on the relationship between the writer and the reception of a work by the reader. Such a shame that Paul Ricouer is no longer alive!

      Comment by michaelroy on October 28th, 2009

      If you polled your friends in the sciences, I bet they would not agree with your statement
      “nor do we seem particularly inclined to allow the book to become a “niche” technology within scholarly discourse. ” 

      In the sciences, the journal is the coin of the realm. If you want to make this claim, you probably need to define scholarly discourse more narrowly, as in humanistic scholarly discourse. Sorry.

      Comment by michaelroy on October 28th, 2009

      I wonder whether at some point, and since I am responding in advance of reading the whole thing perhaps you already do this, you need to engage more deeply with the notion of planned obsolescence as actual business plan in our consumerist economy; to what extent is the publishing industry complicit (or a participant in) the venal Madison Avenue tactics of creating products that go out of fashion by design as a way of creating desire for more, more, more of the new, the improved, the latest, the greatest. Maybe you grapple with this later. I don’t know yet, since I’ve not read ahead….

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on November 1st, 2009

      Good point; that sentence was originally written for a talk at the MLA, so the audience was a very specific segment of the academy, about which that statement is true.  Other folks, not so much.  I’ll clarify.

      Comment by cheryl on November 14th, 2009

      I think I’ve opened afternoon on the PC side of an Intel Mac. (But I could be remembering wrong.) However, there was a year or two there where I didn’t have access to either Classic or an Intel mac.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on November 15th, 2009

      Sure, it’s possible for them to be run on Mac hardware, but this doesn’t really defuse the point:  in order to do so you have to either be trusting enough to run Windows on your Mac or be savvy enough to use an emulator.  These projects were originally built on Apple hardware, and in the Mac OS; I’d still like to see a truly OS X native port…

      Comment by Barbara Fister on November 29th, 2009

      I think there actually is a problem with academics feeling they have to produce enormous amounts of “knowledge” for certification as scholars whether or not they have anything to say. Finely slicing research into least publishable units is one problem, but so is analyzing minutia to pointless excess chiefly because published analysis is a measurable unit that can be used for assessing a scholar’s work. The obsolescence of much scholarly work may not be planned, but it’s gonna happen because very little of it is of lasting value.

      I still think Boyer had a good point… in addition to the cost of producing and distributing books, there’s a cost to scholars spending so much time and effort on writing something you really aren’t burning to say for a tiny audience.

      […] One of the most-commented paragraphs in the project is the zombie paragraph, which several people urged me to go a bit further with. Accordingly, I’ve moved the […]

      Comment by carrual on February 10th, 2010

      The analogy here of academic publishing, radio and vinyl LP feels a bit hurried. It seems to me that these three forms / media have quite different contemporary conditions and quite different relationships to new media.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on February 16th, 2010

      True, absolutely.  I’ll have to see whether there’s really space to expand, though, as what I’m mostly after here is the fact of the media afterlife, rather than the specificity of those particular afterlives…

      […] entire page, or paragraph by paragraph.  Comments can also be threaded, and become conversations—here’s a good example of that.  (Take a look at the comments on paragraph […]

      Comment by Olivia Gutjahr on September 13th, 2016

      I think the argument here between ephemerality and apparent immortality of blogs is missing an important point. Yes those things will always remain ‘alive’ long after they have ‘died’ but they may or may not remain relevant. I could have published a page or blog post about literally anything, it has the potential to always exist, but if no one reads it or searches for it its just taking up space and is functionally useless. So the networked space of blogs can help stave off obsolescence but it is still a reality that most will become obsolete just like many academic books if not just a little bit slower.

  • Introduction: Obsolescence (20 comments)

    • Comment by amandafrench on September 20th, 2009

      I’m never fond of the “x thousand Google results” ploy; it’s too easy. You’ve got good sources here; I’d rely solely on those. Or you could recast it as an imperative: “Google ‘crisis in scholarly publishing’ ” …

      And I’m also very much enjoying the book so far, the lovely prose, the sheer damn sense.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 20th, 2009

      Thanks, Amanda!  I agree with you about the Google results ploy, I think; I’d pulled that number for a talk I was giving, but I don’t think it’s working here.

      Comment by Julie Levin Russo on September 27th, 2009

      There’s a delicious irony in the fact that the decline of a digital heyday was tied to a decline in print media, and it might be worth underscoring. I think (after reading 2 pages) that part of your point in this book is that the relationship between print and digital publishing can be mutually sustaining rather than adversarial, and this is a nice fable for how their fortunes are linked. (Expand a bit and split the paragraph.)

      Comment by Dorothea Salo on September 28th, 2009

      Well over a decade ago? I remember hearing of serials cancellations when I was a child, 30 years ago or thereabouts.

      Comment by CarlosElio on September 28th, 2009

      Can “cultural wildlife preserves” be evaluated? Do they exist? Are they effective? The phrase has a seductive flavor, but I am not convinced such a thing exists. Deficiencies in math education in the US have been noted with some regularity. International tests attest to the deficiencies, so it is ascertainable. However, if the claims have created a wildlife preserve, the species has not recovered yet.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      The phrase is kind of metaphorical shorthand for a much more complex idea which is actually the subject of my first book.  I’d love for you to read that one, if you’d like to know more.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      Oh, certainly — as all such declines, we’ve always already been in it.  But here I’m pointing to the specific use of the phrase “crisis in scholarly publishing”; perhaps I should dig a bit further and see how far back I can find it used…

      Comment by idealrealist on October 19th, 2009

      This argument is reminiscent of a Foucauldian discussion on knoweldge and power and is a terrific starting point.

      Comment by michaelroy on October 28th, 2009

      I wonder at what point in the argument you might want to connect the purported obsolescence of the book to other technologies whose obsolescences are also predicted. In particular, I wonder if there are linkages to the elite forms of liberal education as practiced at (for example) the school that employs you (us) and how the internet is challenging that particular practice. (I’ve not read ahead; I imagine you’ve already noted this somewhere.) This questions ties into some of the work that Cathy Davidson is doing at HASTAC, where she is playing with ideas about how virtual institutions are parasitic upon the physical institutions that sustain them.

      Comment by michaelroy on October 28th, 2009

      Do you intend to engage with new business models for scholarly communication such as the  public library of science model? And by the time this makes it to press, the whole google books settlement will be resolved, which will be a game-changer in many respects.

      Comment by franc004 on October 31st, 2009

      Dana Goia, the head of NEA spoke at my university last night and we discussed the fact that in the first study at least, journalism and creative non-fiction didn’t factor into the survey. He also cited the stat that online readers only read an average of 14-17 words before moving on as evidence that we are losing literacy–but the argument does nothing to address the non-linear ways people, especially younger ones, perceive narrative and text–how what media researchers term “integrators” compile narratives from a variety of media.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on November 1st, 2009

      I’m also always a bit dubious of statistics like “14-17 words,” particularly when they’re tied to such huge value judgments (i.e., long, slow modes of concentration are always preferable to multi-tasking, fast scanning for key information, etc).  Your point about “integrators” is spot-on, I think.

      […] Of course, the intertextual nature of the digital offerings means that the reader could quite easily perform their own research on the feminist-abolitionist connection by consulting the primary and secondary sources in the hyperlinked footnotes, or by following in-text wiki links to the biographical pages of women and men active in both movements.  As would be expected, the best digital offerings (Wikipedia and Britannica) were extensively hyperlinked, allowing the reader to branch off at any point to learn more about individual people, places, and events pertinent to the Convention. Like Thomas and Ayers’ The Differences Slavery Made, the interactivity of the digital medium allows the reader to (in theory) control the parameters of the educational experience, easily going above and beyond their initial exposure to the ideas presented. Although the book related the interconnected nature of the two movements most skillfully , digital media has  room for expansion that print media simply cannot match, even if publishing companies were thriving in the way that Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s Planned Obsolescence so ably shows they are not. […]

      Comment by carrual on February 10th, 2010

      Your final point about reading practices –– and “mainstream” as well as specialized discourses about the purported decline of certain ways and habits of reading –– seems most provocative in this opening paragraph, and I find myself wanting to hear a bit more of your argument on this score up front in the introduction.

      […] at times, and of necessity, to outweigh scholarly merit in making publication decisions” (link). Why is it troubling that market values are having such an impact on […]

      […] her introduction, Fitzpatrick writes, “we too often fall into a conventional association of obsolescence with the […]

      […] when reading through the introduction, you can simply click a button on the side to read comments about an individual paragraph, to which […]

      […] Kathleen. 2009. Introduction. In Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy. Media Commons […]

      […] Kathleen Fitzpatrick and the digital versioning of her later print book Planned Obsolescence. See it here. Does this type of reading counter Carr, or provide further evidence for his […]

  • One: Peer Review (19 comments)

    • Comment by David Parry on September 22nd, 2009

      I really like the repetition of the word irrelevance here, the sounding of it against the Cathy Davidson epigraph. For me this is one of the strongest arguments that can be made. Be online, engage public knowledge where it exists and is produced, or be irrelevant. The anti-intellectualism that many in the academy somewhat correctly observe to be a feature of American culture, is also a two way street, a anti-public discourse on the part of those within the academy. This seems to me the crux (or one of) your point, the network lets us expand and rethink what a peer is.

      Comment by Maria Bustillos on September 28th, 2009

      The other revolution produced by the web (aside from radical changes in content distribution) is the rise of the ‘outsider’–from citizen journalists on dKos, a number of whom (Greenwald, Ana Marie Cox) have vaulted into the highest ranks of the tradmed, to the mad obsessives of Wikipedia, who have brought valuable knowledge to the attention of an interested public way before we could have gotten to know of it otherwise (especially true in the case of living notables and new fields of study.) 

      The big questions here might really be, who now qualifies as a ‘peer’??  And what now qualifies as “authorization”?

      I imagine you’ll be getting into this later, but I didn’t want to forget to comment on that; as a civilian who is interested in scholarly matters, this question is of particular interest.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      Absolutely, Maria — it’s a key part of what’s to come, and an enormous question that contemporary scholarship has to wrestle with as we think about what constitutes “authority” in the digital…

      Comment by Katherine Rowe on October 3rd, 2009

      I’d like to second that comment and suggest moving what seems to me the key conclusion out of footnote 1.8 and into the body of the text.  (I’m assuming, Kathleen, that you can make changes before this goes to hard covers?)

      The key idea comes at the end of the sentence: “thus reminding scholars that our very professional existences…may be dependent on…the inclusion of a broader public…such that they understand the value of academic ways of knowing.”

      (This platform won’t allow cutting and pasting text from a footnote, btw — annoying)

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 3rd, 2009

      Hi, Katherine.  The notes are also contained in copy-and-paste-able (and commentable) format at the end of the document.  But thanks for the comment — I think you may be right.  I need to ponder what the key point is here…

      Comment by michaelroy on October 28th, 2009

      I wonder if it is worth clarifying what you mean by the phrase ‘our institutions’; I suspect that you don’t mean just the individual colleges and universities that employ us, but also professional associations  (aka MLA) and more amorphous things like ‘the institution of higher ed’; to repeat myself, it is probably worth somehow or another clarifying this, since some of the conservatism that afflicts us is a by-product of how hard it is for any individual school to stray very far from what the rest of the pack is doing.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on November 1st, 2009

      Absolutely — a good reminder, Mike.  Thanks!

      Comment by Nick Mirzoeff on February 8th, 2010

      I’m reading this in the wake of the UEA climate centre scandal: the Guardian ran a long piece showing that peer review–which has been held up as a gold standard in refereeing climate change–was being crassly manipulated in certain cases, in ways that are all too familiar. So rather than deal with ways to negotiate climate change, the fetish with peer review has caused significant damage. In a BBC poll 35% of people in the UK think that climate change is made up or exaggerated or not cause by human action. In the US it’s over 40%. This is the price of academic arrogance in the age of networked information and it’s going to be steep.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on February 16th, 2010

      I’ll have to look for that piece, Nick; it seems exactly à propos.  (There’s a bit later on in a footnote about peer review producing rather than preventing the Vioxx/Celebra heart attack scandals; this may be an even better example.)

      Comment by George Carr on February 16th, 2010

      Agreeing with previous posters, I think this paragraph contains the kernel of a much more complex argument, about the structure of academic credibility and authority, and its democratic (and anti-democratic) genesis.  Non-academic writers and thinkers apply a wide variety of measures of credibility to the results of academic activity, and only some of them involve academic values.  (I’m thinking as examples here of intelligent-design folks who discredit academic work on genetics/evolution because it’s largely based on computer modeling, or public-health activists who discredit studies on alcohol/tobacco/marijuana use because they’re largely funded by the industry.)  I know you’re focusing this work on an intra-academic audience, people who already live and work in the sandbox of academic publishing, but you might think about how to give your readers some guidance on the topic of academic credibility and authority.  As a lawyer who often presents scientific evidence to a jury of people who barely finished high school, the issue of establishing academia’s credibility, especially in the softer humanities fields, is very interesting.

      Comment by Steve Brier on April 20th, 2010

      As much as I respect Bob Stein, the definitive comment on Wikipedia and history remains my departed comrade Roy Rosenzweig’s brilliant intervention on the subject: “Can History Be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past,” http://chnm.gmu.edu/essays-on-history-new-media/essays/?essayid=42

      […] media means that the only working system is publish-then-filter” (Here Comes Everybody 98). . . [Read this Fitzpatrick (2009) passage in context] […]

      Comment by Richard E. Miller on November 10th, 2010

      I don’t think the reference to Duncan works. Her death was quick and violent; by some accounts she was nearly decapitated. I don’t think peer review has the power to act in this way on innovations in online publishing. If you cut the reference, choking and the axle remain a problem.

      […] Reading: (1) Fitzpatrick, “Peer Review” (from draft version of Planned Obsolescence), (2) Nowviskie, “Why, Oh Why, CC-BY,” and […]

      […] use Wikipedia. I personally think that’s a disservice and it seems that Roy Rosenzwig and Kathleen Fitzpatrick […]

      […] focus is the future of the academy, particularly in relation to emerging technologies. In the first chapter, Fitzpatrick takes on the problem of peer-review, which, she notes, is employed “in almost every […]

      […] focus is the future of the academy, particularly in relation to emerging technologies. In the first chapter, Fitzpatrick takes on the problem of peer-review, which, she notes, is employed “in almost every […]

      […] The reliance upon peer review — as much in its role in publishing as its role in tenure and promotion, employment, and the multifarious ways it’s structural to academic life and work — demands inspection in the digital age. As Kathleen Fitzpatrick has said, […]

      […] it was impossible to assess the quality or originality of my publications. (As if blind peer review guarantees either, of course, and as if there aren’t other ways of determining quality … but I vowed to […]

  • Two: Authorship (17 comments)

    • Comment by amandafrench on September 20th, 2009

      How marvelous to read this. I might add, and of course you might as well, that another unsaid academic anxiety about writing has to do with THE POINT, as in, what’s THE POINT of writing academic work if (as you previously established) it’s unlikely to be read. Frequently, of course, THE POINT is careerist.

      And even that careerist point can be uncompelling — at least I’ve found it so. Speaking personally, I’ve found it to be a vicious circle: I need to publish in order to get an academic job, but I don’t see the point of writing academic pieces if I don’t have an academic job. And yet I have done some publishing, though not a deluge: I published a couple of articles in okay journals before I went on the job market, didn’t get a job, spent a couple of years trying to get my dissertation published as a book with editors telling me that it was great work but wouldn’t sell, didn’t get a job, gave up on trying to get my dissertation published as a book, turned a dissertation chapter into an article that was accepted by a truly major journal in my field, was shocked to learn that said article wouldn’t be published for nearly three years, didn’t get a job, didn’t get a job, didn’t get a job. Any steam I originally had when it comes to academic writing continues to hiss thinly away.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 20th, 2009

      Yikes — that’s an awful story, Amanda, and an amazing illustration of exactly what’s wrong with scholarly publishing as we know it today.  THE POINT is both not what it ought to be (I write because I have something to say, something I want to share with my field, to help it advance) and not working for what it is (I write to get a job, and then to keep it).  Three years — is just appalling.  There’s got to be a better way.

      Comment by amandafrench on September 23rd, 2009

      Well, of course, I do have the line on my CV! So what, after all, does it matter if the work itself isn’t actually available to be read?

      Comment by David Parry on September 26th, 2009

      “During the course of this long volume I have undoubtedly plagiarized from many sources–to use the ugly term that did not bother Shakespeare’s age. I doubt whether any criticism or cultural history has ever been written without such plagiary, which inevitably results from assimilating the contributions of your countless fellow-workers, past and present. The true function of scholarship as a society is not to stake out claims on which others must not trespass, but to provide a community of knowledge in which others may share.” -F. O. Matthiessen, American Renaissance 1941.

      Comment by David Parry on September 26th, 2009

      Re: “deconstruction of the notion of authorship”
      I am not sure deconstruction is the right word here. Deconstruction isn’t performed or wielded like a tool, it just is. (Deconstruction, like shit, happens.) Plus I think it might be more narrow than the meaning the rest of this paragraph implies.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 26th, 2009

      Mmm, good point.  And I usually hate such casual uses of “deconstruction.”  What I mean to say here is something more akin to “our attempts to dismantle and decenter the notion of authorship,” which is less pithy, but more accurate.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      I love that.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on November 1st, 2009

      And now want to add to it: “in spite of a persistent fiction, we never write on a blank page, but always on one that has already been written on…” — Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life

      Comment by Katherine Rowe on January 16th, 2010

      As a Shakespeare scholar long interested in remixing for early print and stage, I note some dissonance in the two citations above. In keeping with the classic humanist commonplacing tradition de Certeau invokes, both of them attribute their sources. The power of both statements depends as much on the reputation of the writers, the intellectual lineage they affiliate with, as on the elegance and pithiness of the expressions.

      This dissonance reminds me that the modes of “plagiarism” we worry about now really incorporate challenges to at least three kinds of authorial claims, which the history of print as a form has bound together but which are not identical with each other.

      — the obligation when representing someone else’s ideas to represent them accurately
      — intellectual property rights to print, distribute, license
      — rights of attribution (sometimes under the umbrella of “moral rights” of authors)

      In a reputation economy, it matters what scholarship — what words — your name is attached to. In a dynamic publishing environment where reputation is an important currency, one might imagine some acts of scholarship where one wishes group attributions, some where one simply contributes content in the interests of a greater good (wiki style white-papers on specific topics, say) and some where one wishes ones own contributions acknowledged. It is easy to slide across these territories without recognizing that one has done so, and that is becoming as true of conventional publishing today as it is of online publishing. For example, the emergent practice of “custom publishing” is trending towards online publishing in tolerating that instability. Custom publishing arrangements allow an instructor to pick and choose from a publisher’s content list, perhaps even at the level of paragraphs, perhaps combining her own original materials with materials the publisher owns)  These arrangements are far from centralized for all publishers; in many cases, no content-area editor oversees them. So if you publish scholarship with the provision that it may be used in “custom publishing” you are entertaining this possibility: another instructor might select a few pages (which may or may not accurately represent your thinking), add her own writing to them, and publish that with your name on it, with your name and hers together, or only your name on it. This is a limit-case, perhaps. Is it one we would be right to be concerned about?

      I think KF’s study is particularly sound in the ways it ask what is *enabling* of intellectual discourse in our traditional models, as well as what’s inhibiting of it. The moral right of attribution is enabling, I think, in that it populates the community of knowledge with textual persons that one can be in conversation with over time and space.

      Comment by Paul F. Gehl on January 26th, 2010

      I think this is a very brave paragraph. You enunciate nicely (and in personal terms) the tensions involved in trying to live up to essentially Romantic notions of original, creative authorship. In fact we all now live in a world where we can hardly remember, much less clearly keep track of, the sources of all that we think and write. The pleasure of reading a book you are allowing us to read in draft is partly in recognizing that you both acknowledge and embrace some of these anxieties. Even if your reader/commentors actually contribute fairly little substantially, you have created a forum for conversation about writing that is original and let us be part of that.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on February 16th, 2010

      Thanks so much, Paul; that’s really what I was hoping for.  And the feedback I’ve gotten has been enormously important.  I’m working my way back through the comments now (hence the belated reply) in preparation for settling into intensive revising, and I’m recognizing the degree to which multiple voices will need to be acknowledged and included in the final text…

      Comment by George Carr on February 17th, 2010

      Second the bravery comment; and also note the intrigue raised for me by your honesty in confessing the anxiety raised by pre-writing discussion.  In my work (academic legal writing for a functional audience, rather than an academic audience) there is far less pride of authorship, mostly because there is no prestige system built around sole authorship; both clients and senior lawyers assume that briefs are collaboratively authored, especially large and complex ones.  Thus there is much less anxiety about plagiarism and authorship in my work; however there is proportionally more anxiety about the amorphousness of evaluation processes for advancement and tenure, much as you describe elsewhere in this work.

      Comment by abhardy on October 29th, 2012

      I jotted down a question in my paper copy of your book about community advancement. It sounds great, but what is it? It seems clear in the hard sciences (as long as they in fact beget applied sciences), but where is humanities scholarship “going?” This seems tangled up in questions of “products” and “value” that to me form the crux of these discussions about the future of publishing and the academy. I would like to see more pointed discussion on what this means.

      Comment by katinji888 on March 1st, 2013

      This is a splendid way to begin this chapter!

      This is crookedly parallel (excuse my oxymoronic language) to the authorial world and to technology in literature. The author, on one level, possesses an idea that perhaps has yet to be named. Using Newton as an example, his idea was not one that did not exist. We lived in gravity before it was named, but Newton named the concept and explicated the science of it. He did not, however, create the concept himself. Hence, the crooked parallel to the literary author, whose ideas were perhaps in existence before they were named.

      The ideas of a literary author, then, may be original insofar as they are derived from an individual conception of the world, even if it is based in a more communal reaction to the communal experiences and natural processes.  But the question remains:

      Are these original ideas,  unnamed ideas, or merely original arrangements of previously mentioned ideas?

      Then, with the advent of technology, this Newtonian giant idea is complicated further. Are we standing on the shoulders of  original giants we created when we use technology, or is technology just a framework for new arrangements of already proposed ideas of the author?

      Comment by katinji888 on March 1st, 2013

      You wrote a wonderful phrase here:

      “Some part of the difficulty comes from a sense that someone else’s opinions might interfere with my thought processes, confusing my sense of the issues that I’m exploring before I’m able to fully establish my position.”

      Ironically, I think about this problem quite a bit, and I am envious that you made the remark so well. The question I have is this: Does the advent of technology and its interconnectedness enhance or mar our ideas and authorship?

      On the one hand, I would argue that that technology’s gift of piles of information to us gives us more with which to conceptualize our ideas, but on the other, I wonder if it also mars our ability to return to original sources and formulate from page one. I’m honestly not certain, though my ideas are already begin shaped by the first source to which I was introduced for this-your book 😉


      Comment by Jeni jones on March 1st, 2013

      This article really made me think of the real definition of an author. It makes me realize that in some for everyone is an author like everyone who colors is an artist.

      […] Kathleen. 2009. Two: Authorship. In Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy. Media Commons […]

  • How to Read This Text (14 comments)

    • Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      This is a comment that refers to the entire page.

      […] Fitzpatrick explains, her ”site is powered by CommentPress, which allows comments to be attached to whole pages […]

      […] explica Fitzpatrick, su “sitio es alimentado por CommentPress, que permite que  los comentarios se […]

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on November 23rd, 2009

      This is a comment on the first paragraph of this document.  The number next to the bubble indicates that a comment exists.

      Comment by Cheryl Ball on January 10th, 2010

      I start teaching a publishing class on Wednesday (themed Scholarly Publishing in a Digital Age… hate the “digital age” part, but that’s the working title that students will understand since they’re not expecting to study “scholarly” publishing nor “digital” publishing.) We read your book after a quick read of Borgman’s and then Willinsky’s. I had planned to add any comments as I read through with them, but even on scanning the entire book several times now, I don’t see a whole lot that others haven’t already mentioned. You’re a quick writer (it seems), and you’ll probably be done revising by the time I get there, but just wanted to FYI. fwiw.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on January 12th, 2010

      Hey, Cheryl.  Thanks for this, and for teaching the book!  I hope that your students will comment here, and that you will, too, as things occur to you.  I’m moving a little slower on the revisions than I’d hoped, so any thoughts you have would still be much appreciated!

      […] reading through Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s online book, Planned Obsolesence, the section entitled “How to Read this Text” gave me pause. In that how-to chapter, Fitzpatrick makes it very clear that she, not a third party, […]

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 14th, 2010

      This is a reply to the comment above, which is signaled by the slight indent.

      […] reading through Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s online book, Planned Obsolesence, the section entitled “How to Read this Text” gave me pause. In that how-to chapter, Fitzpatrick makes it very clear that she, not a third party, […]

      Comment by Fenny Wiradjaja on June 5th, 2011

      Dear Kathleen
      I’m aware that the printable edition of this book will only be published later this year. However, as I prefer to read a printed format rather than on a computer screen, is there any chance that the current version of the book is available in pdf?
      Thanks very much.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on June 7th, 2011

      Fenny, I’ll be in touch via email.

      Comment by Ken Koltun-Fromm on August 27th, 2011

      Could you tell me which footnote plugin your are using here?  I use one as well with Comment Press, but I find that your popup footnotes work better.
      Also a comment to tell you how much I am enjoying your work here so far.  I am relatively new to the WordPress/Comment Press community, and I am playing around with it so I can utilize it in my classroom.  Many thanks for your groundbreaking work – and I did have the opportunity to hear you at Haverford when you came to speak last year!

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on August 28th, 2011

      Hi, Ken. Thanks for the kind comments! I’m using a custom JQuery tooltips script that was written by Jeremy Boggs. I’d be happy to share it with you, as Jeremy shared it with me! Want to shoot me an email? I’m at kfitz47 at gmail.

      […] Książka rodziła się właśnie w takim otwartym dostępie – do tej pory można zresztą przeczytać komentarze, które towarzyszyły jej powstawaniu (za pomocą platfromy […]

  • metadata (13 comments)

    • Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on August 31st, 2009

      I think this paragraph really needs to be updated to think about what Geoff Nunberg has called the “metadata train wreck” of Google Books; relying on machine-generated rather than expert-produced metadata will be disastrous — but even if one starts with that base layer of machine-generated error, it could be corrected via crowd-sourcing.

      Comment by amandafrench on September 20th, 2009

      I think you’re probably right about the need to update this to take Nunberg into account — though I hope you’ve got a strategy for preventing yourself from updating *everything* as new news breaks. And were you there for the moment at DH 2009 when someone in the audience urgently asked Jon Orwant for that very functionality? I twittered it. 🙂

      I’d be very grateful to learn why Google Books doesn’t allow metadata correction. I suspect they’re secretly developing a system to allow it, frankly.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 20th, 2009

      I was there for that moment, and would also be curious to know why they’re not making use of crowdsourcing for metadata correction.  Or even just allowing known librarians to correct the data.  I’ll hope that they’re developing a system, too.

      In the meantime, yeah, I’m going to have to draw the line somehow on updates, but this one seems pretty key.

      Comment by amandafrench on September 23rd, 2009

      Actually I don’t think it’s true that URLs to individual tweets cease to work, or at least, they haven’t yet for some of the oldest tweets of mine that I can get my hands on (about 2 years old, dating from late 2007). The problem is that you can’t *find* those tweets or their URLs after a period that is currently only 1.5 weeks. That very short time period is “dynamic and subject to shrink as the number of tweets per day continues to grow”; it used to be about four months. 

      Therefore, the only methods of preserving Twitter are currently very ad hoc, and they have to be set up beforehand (TwapperKeeper, RSS, and so on). Still, if you save the URL of an individual tweet, you can link to it with reasonable confidence.

      Comment by amandafrench on September 23rd, 2009

      A small additional point about this paragraph: a key benefit of expert-produced ontologies is what librarians call “authority control,” an apparently tautological and tyrannical term that just means one can distinguish Jones, John M. 1911-1987 from Jones, John H. 1987-. Technology can sometimes do this kind of disambiguation, as well, but I can’t think of any really good machine-generated examples, and of course users are likely simply to tag something “John Jones.”

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 25th, 2009

      That’s a helpful clarification, Amanda; thanks.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 25th, 2009

      Absolutely.  I’ve read about projects that are attempting to produce machine disambiguation, but I suspect they’re a fair bit down the road as yet, and will likely still need expert supervision and training…

      Comment by kkraus on September 26th, 2009

      Users are also encouraged to make their personal websites and web resources Zotero-readable by, for example, adding Dublin Core or COinS metadata to their HTML; or by downloading and installing a plug-in for a supported content management system, such as WordPress.  See the documentation on “Making Your Site Zotero Friendly”: http://www.zotero.org/support/make_your_site_zotero_ready

      Comment by kkraus on September 26th, 2009

      Just a quick addendum: the COinS metadata that Zotero interprets is relevant to your discussion of OpenURL in the next section.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 26th, 2009

      That’s helpful, Kari — I meant to bring COinS into this chapter, and I’m not sure why it didn’t finally appear here!

      Comment by Dorothea Salo on October 6th, 2009

      They’re not even making full use of the MARC records that participating libraries are giving them.

      Comment by Natalia Cecire on November 16th, 2009

      Oh, yes, Google Scholar. Enter “Wordsworth” and you’ll get obscure scientific studies with one co-author with the last name “Wordsworth.” There has to be a better way. It’s not just a matter of <em>what</em> they index, but also how. You’re so right that “it’s just not the metadata that we might be most interested in, or that might produce the best results.” There are ways to use metadata that are, for some purposes, close to meaningless.

      […] metadati conservano i testi, perché li collocano in una mappa che permette di ritrovarli, di identificarne […]

  • new institutional structures (12 comments)

    • Comment by amandafrench on September 23rd, 2009

      I’m willing to suggest that such publication serve as a means of publicity for the university. 🙂

      Comment by David Parry on September 27th, 2009

      It always strikes me as odd that “public intellectual” is the exception to the rule.

      Knowledge which is not public is not knowledge.

      Comment by David Parry on September 27th, 2009

      One can choose to protect the business model (try and make money off of publishing) or the social function (disseminate knowledge), but not both. At this moment those are contradictory goals.

      Comment by David Parry on September 27th, 2009

      I think especially if we think about publicity as reputation or network capital, not publicity as PR.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 27th, 2009

      Yeah, it’s the PR connotation that I’m trying to avoid here — but I think separating that mode of publicity for the university (see how excellent we are!) from the public-ness of intellectual work is exactly right.  I keep thinking about that Eisenstein quote you tweeted last week, about the revolutionary notion that valuable information might be best preserved by being made public, rather than being kept private…

      Comment by Dorothea Salo on September 29th, 2009

      I actually disagree strongly with Brown et al. that libraries don’t know where experimentation might be best suited. Librarians work closely with faculty to select materials and to instruct students; that leads (in my experience; I’m not a liaison librarian or selector — I just know a lot of them!) to a pretty good read on what’s going on in the department and the larger discipline. The problem as I judge it is twofold: one, faculty don’t think of the library as a potential collaborator in this realm; and two, libraries feel as beleaguered as presses when it comes to resources for experimentation and room for the sort of failure one learns from.

      Comment by Dorothea Salo on September 29th, 2009

      Thank you for calling the provosts to account. The particular absurd contradiction you note fairly leapt out at me from that report, and of course you are correct that without support at the provost level, changes such as you outline in this book are flatly impossible.

      Comment by amandafrench on September 30th, 2009

      I see it this way: provosts might be convinced to allocate funds for publishing the work of its faculty if it’s pointed out that such work can indeed function as PR in the purpose of “see how excellent we are!” I am by no means suggesting that this argument should be made disingenuously: in the digital age, traditional BS PR doesn’t work anymore, cf. the Cluetrain Manifesto and related works. The best PR is now legitimate conversation, not bloodless boilerplate, and I’d hope that forward-looking provosts might recognize that. In other words, I’d say that the Internet holds the potential to turn intellectual work into the means of creating authentic relations with the public.

      Comment by Barbara Fister on November 24th, 2009

      Interesting that libraries have a clear sense of connection to an institution (but not much of a sense of “the market”); presses have a clearer sense of the wider market but less connection to their institution. It’s going to be sticky to widen the library’s sense of mission and persuade their institutions that investing in giving information away makes more sense than purchasing information for a local audience. It will require taking seriously the public good of producing and sharing knowledge. But it makes so much sense.

      Comment by Barbara Fister on November 24th, 2009

      The irony is that making money doesn’t make enough money, but disseminating knowledge is costing us way too much. They are contradictory goals that are in play right now and hurting us badly.

      […] as a database rather than transactionally to academic and research libraries.” In her “new institutional structures” section, Fitzpatrick notes a small trend of university departments taking on greater levels of […]

      […] questa soluzione funzioni, le istituzioni devono cambiare. Le biblioteche, che hanno sempre avuto il compito di raccogliere testi e offrire servizi, possono […]

  • from originality to remix (12 comments)

    • Comment by amandafrench on September 22nd, 2009

      I feel that there’s a ghost hovering over this section and the last: Wikipedia. Wikis, of course, are open to even deeper revision than that “in the form of comments.” Of course, I’d hate to say that you *must* make the ritual move of discussing Wikipedia when you talk about collaborative authorship, and while one could argue that Wikipedia-editing ought to be considered at least a minor form of countable scholarship, making that argument would probably detract from your focus here. Maybe an acknowledgeatory (I just made that word up) note is in order.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 25th, 2009

      I think you’re right — it’s in keeping with the kinds of curatorial work I’m interested in being taken seriously as a mode of scholarly production…

      Comment by David Parry on September 26th, 2009

      “the web page I open in my browser window is never the document itself, but a copy of the document, and, in fact, my browser’s representation of a copy of the document”
      How is this structurally different from a book which is only a copy of the book, or a word processor document which is just a representation of code. I think it is, but I am not clear here what you take the difference to be.

      Comment by David Parry on September 26th, 2009

      Of course the text really isn’t “finished,” or it wouldn’t be possible to have second editions which update the text for contemporary times, or corrections, or the “edited with a new introduction.”

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 26th, 2009

      The difference may be a bit precious, but I’d probably put it something like this:  when I buy a book, I’m of course buying a copy of a book, but (unless something has gone wrong) one identical to every other copy out there, part of an authorized edition assumed to be static and complete.  When my browser loads a web page, on the other hand, it makes a copy, and then in fact interprets the copy of the code that it has made in way that could well differ from any other copy out there, depending on my browser and the settings and plugins I’ve added on to it.  So there’s something far more fluid in this manner of copying, as there’s an interposed act of rewriting between the code on the server and the web page I actually see…

      Comment by David Parry on September 26th, 2009

      Is there a reason this text doesn’t have any links? Or at least any that I can find which link outside its borders? How would this text change if The Grey Album linked to a YouTube video of one of the remixes, or better yet a torrent site to download the album (which would as I understand be illegal).

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 26th, 2009

      The primary reason was just that I ran out of time in building the book — not a great reason, but one that speaks to the question of labor that comes up later.  This is a good reminder, though, to go back and see where links and illustrations might usefully be added…

      Comment by David Parry on September 27th, 2009

      Yeah one thing we have to consider here is how much more work this kind of scholarship involves, coding, building databases, or just embedding links in writing. This is another reason to value collaborative work, as it is difficult for someone to build/write a quality online production without significant outside help.

      Comment by Natalia Cecire on October 13th, 2009

      This talk of open and closed texts puts me in mind of Lyn Hejinian’s essay “The Rejection of Closure” (1983) which is not about a medium but about a mode of writing. “In the ‘open text’…all the elements of the work are maximally excited”; the open text “is open to the world and particularly to the reader.” It seems as though you’re looking for something on the level of the medium that Language poets were looking for on the level of poetics.

      Comment by Paul F. Gehl on January 17th, 2010

      This note prompts me to ask what you see as the future of the CommentPress version of your book. If, as I understood from the introductory matter, you will be publishing it in print form, do you also imagine that it will be a permanent (or even semi-permanent) on-line artifact as well? And if so, will it continue to invite comment? So that your work on it never ends? Talk about intensive, time-consuming scholarship!

      Comment by carrual on February 10th, 2010

      I echo David’s question, as your analysis here prompted immediately this point about the book.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on February 16th, 2010

      Well, as you can see, the frequency of my replies has fallen off more than a little already.  This version of the text will in fact be a persistent artifact — preserved as long as I can keep the software working — and so I hope to preserve the process by which the text developed.  At some point I may find myself needing to post something saying “I’m not in this text anymore; I’m over here working on this new thing,” but I definitely want the discussion to continue — it may just morph into a discussion amongst readers rather than feedback from readers to the author.

  • the death of the author (12 comments)

    • Comment by amandafrench on September 22nd, 2009

      And yet surely the project in principle is also about the persistent decontextualization that is a common experience of reading on the web. I read a single blog post that I didn’t find via the blog’s home page; I read a single New York Times article that I didn’t find via nytimes.com. At least in part, Skin is about disaggregation.

      I sense this because I met one of Jackson’s words at MLA. Seeing the word (I believe it was “announcements”) inscribed on her wrist was very much like reading on the web. I was suddenly very aware that there existed a massive, atmosphere-sized text that I was perceiving, could perceive, only in that fragment.

      Which means, for this discussion, only that I’d quibble with the phrase “readers disappear, transformed into signs”; I think the intended readers of Jackson’s Skin might indeed be those who “encounter a participant in the process.” Which reinforces your argument: readers are not necessarily empowered by hypertext, and “the networks of power that produce cultural ‘authority’ remain fully in place, existing wholly independently of the figure of the individual author” — and also of the figure of the individual, liberal reader who can hold the whole text in her hand.

      Comment by amandafrench on September 22nd, 2009

      I’ve remembered: the word was “anniversaries.”

      Comment by amandafrench on September 22nd, 2009

      I’m so glad someone is making this point: I find canonical digital humanities texts such as Hamlet on the Holodeck and Radiant Textuality to be positively dated in their claims that hypertextuality will/has revolutionized text.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 25th, 2009

      Good point, Amanda; there do remain that other set of readers outside the text who need to be accounted for.  Thanks for reminding me of that.

      Comment by Maria Bustillos on September 28th, 2009

      Astonishingly presumptuous final sentence, there.

      Comment by Maria Bustillos on September 28th, 2009

      I kind of liken Barthes to Freud, in that he raised the big question, “OK where is the meaning, if it isn’t in the author’s intention?” much the same way that Freud pointed out that there was this massive ocean beneath the glistening surface of consciousness. In both cases raising the awareness represented a massive and valuable shift of consciousness, but explanations beyond that point have been, and remain, sketchy (in both senses of that word.) 

      How about if we liken the author to the host of a dinner party?  He chooses the food and the wine, he sets his table for us. The guests aren’t going to be able to alter the menu or the setting, but if they don’t bring appetite and appreciation, and if they aren’t scintillating company, the party will fail.  It needs a full table to make a good party, but even more, it relies on the host, right?  No host, no table!  No food!

      That way we can keep the instinctive love and appreciation we have of the really great writer (or cook) but realize too that it’s incumbent on us as readers to learn to appreciate what is set before us with as much reverence for and understanding of his efforts as we can.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      Indeed — that’s the one that caught me up short.

      Comment by Natalia Cecire on October 6th, 2009

      It seems somehow telling that you met this person at MLA…

      Comment by Paul F. Gehl on January 18th, 2010

      I would like to see you develop the last part of this paragraph further, or to reference others who have made this point. Certainly your description resonates with my (admittedly limited) experience of reading hypertext documents. I find myself annoyed at not being able to find a way back to a thread from which I wandered. But perhaps the greatest frustration comes from what you describe here as choices that “remain hidden” and the inability to perceive the “shape of the text as a whole.” These characteristics lend an air of the occult to many hypertexts.

      Comment by carrual on February 10th, 2010

      This line of inquiry is provocative, and I wonder whether the chapter would benefit from opening with it.

      Comment by maggievaughn147 on February 28th, 2013

      I am in complete agreement with this paragraph. I think there is a tendency in literature, and also in art, to always look to the author or artist for meaning, but art, whether it be literature or fine art, is no longer the property of the creator once it enters into the public. It is now going to be continually altered by the interpretations of others that will become part of the work’s meaning as a whole. When the aspect of technology is thrown into this mix, the importance of author’s intent becomes even more unimportant to the work. As commenters are commenting on this book, the meaning is evolving and the text is growing because of outside comments.

      Comment by Hello world! | on July 29th, 2013

      […] back in play. Even the very notion of authorship is now a subject of engaged scholarly debate, as Kathleen Fitzpatrick has recently noted in Planned Obsolescence, her critical assessment of contemporary scholarly […]

  • hypertext (12 comments)

    • Comment by dennisjerz on December 21st, 2009

      I see that you are carefully distinguishing between hypertext and parser-based texts.  I wonder whether the casual reader, who may have no direct experience with either “Afternoon” or “Zork,” and who therefore sees them both as examples of “interactive fiction,” will catch the distinction you are making here.   There may be something about the grammar of that final sentence that loses me…

      Something about this sentence seems to suggest that the reader has to do work in order to update classic IF games, or at least that’s the impression I got when I read the statement that Storyspace readers have not updated StorySpace texts.  It’s not the story itself that IF geeks updated, it’s the tools used to run those texts — though of course as Aaerseth points out, the interpreter and interface are part of the cybertext.

      Infocom designed a virtual machine in the 80s, and wrote interpreters for each of the dozen or more personal computers on the market at the time… if Emily Short writes a game in 1999, she doesn’t have to put any additional work into making that game work on new platforms (PDAs, iPhone) that didn’t exist at that time, and all the new interpreters can read the same game file.

      Comment by William Patrick Wend on December 22nd, 2009

      I like the distinguishing between hypertext and parser/IF. When I was writing my MA thesis, I was writing for advisers who had basic knowledge of ELit but not a lot more. I made sure to differentiate between hypertext (Afternoon, The Unknown, etc) and IF/Parser (Zork, Book & Volume) in order to be clear about the differences. These helped in two ways: It made it clearer what I was more concerned with (hypertext fiction) and made defining terms/differences easier when discussing my work with my program or while speaking on campus.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on December 22nd, 2009

      Alas, this may be one of those moments where you guys are reading better than I’m writing; I was definitely attempting to distinguish between hypertext and IF, but I hadn’t fully processed (ha ha) the role of the parser, and the ways that the parser affects the future production of emulators.  Thanks so much for these comments; this is important food for thought.

      Comment by Kathleen Hines on March 2nd, 2013

      In stating that “the chain of being” of the book has deteriorated  as a result of hypertext, do you mean that hypertext has done so because it has introduced reader-author interaction or because e-books (and the hypertext they contain) has created a new hierarchy of its own?

      Hypertext certainly referencs the pattern of an author’s thoughts in a manner the print book cannot possibly imitate, but do hypertext and commenting on an author’s text change the nature of the author’s authority, or do they change the framework by which his/her authority is supported or challenged?

      I suppose what I wonder is if the authorial and textual hierarchy is erased with hypertext and open commenting, or if it is merely placed in a structure where more interaction can challenge the author’s authority, particularly since the text has already been written before said interactions are introduced?

      Comment by Kathleen Hines on March 2nd, 2013

      In stating that “the chain of being” of the book has deteriorated  as a result of hypertext, do you mean that hypertext has done so because it has introduced reader-author interaction or because e-books (and the hypertext they contain) has created a new hierarchy of its own? Hypertext certainly referencs the pattern of an author’s thoughts in a manner the print book cannot possibly imitate, but do hypertext and commenting on an author’s text change the nature of the author’s authority, or do they change the framework by which his/her authority is supported or challenged? I suppose what I wonder is if the authorial and textual hierarchy is erased with hypertext and open commenting, or if it is merely placed in a structure where more interaction can challenge the author’s authority, particularly since the text has already been written before said interactions are introduced?

      Comment by kac232 on May 25th, 2014

      Part of the skill in writing a coherent “piece” (chapter, book, article, whatever) involves using language to connect ideas in a logical way, and this is what I think gets erased in hypertext.  It’s difficult to follow the author’s ideas if you are jumping around in the text, and possibly even jumping to related texts written by other authors before you even understand the point of what you were originally reading.  

      Comment by smd on May 26th, 2014

      This is where education needs to step it up.  Reading comprehension is based in books and the conventional way of reading.  Students are taught to read linearly (traditionally) and are not given much instruction on how to read in spaces other than a traditional text.  Some of this has to do with teachers themselves being uncomfortable navigating hypertext and talking to students about reading in digital spaces as they were never formally taught to navigate and read in these spaces themselves.  To slow the production of “disoriented” readers, we need to orient younger generations to reading in digital spaces.  

      Comment by adlangmead on May 27th, 2014

      But what if the author is, indeed, asking the reader to jump around? That is to say, using the affordances of hypertext to produce new experiences…actually to produce disorientation from the experience? Linearity is only one way to experience a text, it seems to me.

      Comment by adlangmead on May 27th, 2014

      I remember my own introduction to “having” to read in a hyperlinked environment as an adult, and the ways in which I disliked the distractions of all the linked words moving me to other texts that I also did not know–interestingly, in ways that footnotes really never did to me, probably because I knew that following that footnote would not lead me to the entire text that the author wanted me to already know. In this way, a truly networked text, one that is really situated within texts that are entirely available through the network, can be utterly overwhelming, as each text can be seen to implicate the entire corpus. 

      Comment by kac232 on May 27th, 2014

       I am the kind of person who gets really frustrated with footnotes for that reason – because they distract me from following the logic of the text by interjecting something related but outside the current narrative.  It feels disorderly.  I wonder what it would look like – changing the way we teach reading to accommodate nonlinear forms?  We would have to change the way we measure reading comprehension, too.   

      Comment by Aisling on May 27th, 2014

       A more interactive option may be annotation, as represented in such projects as Rap Genius or MIT’s Annotation Studio project

      Comment by ajb on May 26th, 2015

      To me, hyperlinks make explicit the connections between works that had always been present before. References, allusions, and expected knowledge of other works have always been expected when reading certain texts published before hyperlinks, and in some cases all hyperlinks serve to do is bring those connections directly to light. I of course acknowledge, however, that this is not all hyperlinks can do, but only wish to note that they are perhaps not so radical in this basic use.

  • the history of peer review (12 comments)

    • Comment by David Parry on September 22nd, 2009

      I think the Foucault connection here is strong. Maybe I am over thinking this as I am teaching Foucault this week and next, but . . .One of the central points Foucault seems to make is that this internalization of discipline, getting people to police themselves, is the ruse of freedom. That is, in some regard the seeming withdrawal of state force is replaced by a more nefarious internalization of policing. I had never actually thought of the history of peer review this way, but it seems to me from these passages, that not surprisingly it follows other “modern” developments.

      “Speaking of the panoptic principle, he said that there was much more there than architectural ingenuity: it was an event in the ‘history of the human mind’. In appearance, it is merely the solution of a technical problem; but, through it, a whole type of society emerges.”-Foucault, Discipline and Punish

      Comment by Maria Bustillos on October 1st, 2009

      This is a subject big enough for another book (or three,) but I’d be interested to hear you touch on (1) the history of reproducing lab experiments in order to authenticate scientific claims empirically and (2) the role of social context in academic work, e.g. how the outsider Fleming’s work would never have amounted to anything without the establishment imprimatur of Florey (P.B. Medawar wrote a spectacular essay on this called “Florey Story.”)

      Comment by Paul F. Gehl on January 16th, 2010

      I agree with Maria Bustillos that you cannot afford to write another whole book on the history of peer review, but that a slightly fuller account would be welcome here. Among other things, it would be useful to know exactly how the idea became tied up with professional advancement within the modern university. Although I do not agree with him on many specifics, I think some of Gary Hall’s arguments on the politicization of the process are also pertinent to reading this history.

      Comment by Nick Mirzoeff on February 8th, 2010

      Also true of Academies of Art, where a “masterpiece” was submitted for review by a group of academicians, usually more than two if I remember rightly

      […] to offer a summary of current models. For a longer discussion, read Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s history of academic peer review, sketch of its future, and analysis of an array of online experiments with new […]

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on February 16th, 2010

      Ooh, interesting; I didn’t know that.  Thanks, Nick!

      Comment by George Carr on February 16th, 2010

      There’s an interesting story to be written, on the institution of outside peer-review during the 1940s.  Given that the period was fraught with migration and ethnic conflict (and a number of linguistic issues) due to the growing European diaspora, I wouldn’t be surprised if this early peer-review system was an effort at preservation of existing power structures, much as “personal interviews” were instituted by admissions authorities at prestigious colleges as a quiet method of excluding disfavored ethnic groups.

      Comment by Duncan Agnew on December 14th, 2011

      ” Because the members of the royal academies were, if not literally part of the government, certainly dependent upon the state for their livelihoods”This is nonsense if applied to the Royal Society of London, which had (unlike the Paris Academy) no government support to speak of. For the issues that were at stake (trust and honesty) there are a couple of good books by Steven Shapin.

      […] The peer-review process seems to have had its own interesting and not-entirely-clear history.  Some argue that it began as a way for the state to monitor, police and, if need be, censor royal academies such as the Royal Society.  It evolved, however, to become a standard part of scientific practice, as thus appears to have been imported into the humanities along with the form of the scholarly journal itself.  The whole story is not entirely clear, but Kathleen Fitzpatrick has a nice summary of current research. […]

      […] Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy (New York: NYU Press, 2011), accessed February 14, 2014. http://mcpress.media-commons.org/plannedobsolescence/one/the-history-of-peer-review/ […]

      […] Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy (New York: NYU Press, 2011), accessed February 14, 2014. http://mcpress.media-commons.org/plannedobsolescence/one/the-history-of-peer-review/&crarr; […]

      […] The history of peer review. Planned Obsolescence […]

  • mediacommons and peer-to-peer review (11 comments)

    • Comment by David Parry on September 26th, 2009

      I think the point you make here is crucial, “However, for network-based publishing to succeed, the communal emphasis of network culture will have to take the lead over academic culture’s individualism.” That is, one could build the best online peer, reputation system imaginable, and it would be of little use without an accompanying shift in how we view scholarship. This strikes me as particularly difficult in the humanities where the culture and value of individual/solitary production is valued above all else.

      Comment by Dorothea Salo on September 28th, 2009

      A quick trawl through the history of the institutional repository may be apropos here, to make the point that “community” tends to be discipline- rather than institution-based.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      A good suggestion — thanks!

      Comment by Yuri on January 3rd, 2010

      “… in fact much mitigates against it.”

      Should the word be “militates” here?

      Comment by Katherine Rowe on January 16th, 2010

      Picking up on the professional “culture” thread —

      Among the most poignant criticisms of scholarly social networking practices (open reviewing, institutional depositories, facebook pages, etc.) that I’ve heard from colleagues has been the worry that a certain “personality” or “type” will no longer find a home among us. That is to say, that academia (the humanities in particular) has long been a professional haven for thoughtful, socially inept, somewhat twitchy, eccentric people who like to curl up with books or hole up in an archive. The worry goes: with the advent of more connected, collaborative, open and public working lives, will that haven continue to exist? There’s a core “nature of our profession” worry being expressed here.

      Comment by Paul F. Gehl on January 17th, 2010

      Good point, but I have to say I worry less about the loners inside the university (who will still be able to work on their own, and will perhaps find the relative openness of the ‘online academy’ congenial to the degree that it allows them to have a public without seeing it personally in public forums) than I do about the independent scholars who do not have elaborate academic credentials to present to the community. These folks have always had difficulty getting heard, and unless the new systems allow them to pay-to-play they will continue to do so.

      Comment by Paul F. Gehl on January 17th, 2010

      Here again, note 43 contains a crucial observation that I would like to see in text, if only because the online projects that invite review do create labor that did not exist at all in traditional peer-review systems.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on February 16th, 2010

      Yes, absolutely; that one definitely needs to come into the main text.

      Comment by Richard Bookman on March 19th, 2012

      It’s interesting how the notion of “Facebook for scholars” is evolving…partic as Facebook reveals that its business, as opposed to its function, is to provide highly personalized information to advertisers.My own growing awareness of this has caused a shift in my thinking about what a Facebook for scholars could do: it’s not about the social network, but rather about the ability to act as a highly personalized filter agent for internet content.As w/ FB ads, FB4S, as we might call it, could be built from a scholars ‘like’ button to build up, over time, content that i’m finding useful in my research. The underlying FB4S engine can do exactly what FB is now doing for advertisers, but consumption is focused on links to ideas I might ‘like’, not products.

      Comment by Cailin Kowalewski on February 17th, 2013

      @”…scholars who do not have elaborate academic credentials to present to the community” — I think this kind of collaborative environment could also offer opportunities for emerging scholars who may similarly lack the credentials necessary to gain a foothold in the “peer-review hierarchy.” Simultaneously,  getting to a point where this hierarchy is no longer acknowledged will be an extensive process, and may consign these new scholars to a position of observation rather than participation.

      […] Schulman also points to this book: Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy. I’m probably sufficiently disengaged from academia now that it would do me and my readers little good for me to read it. But it’s an interesting project. It not only proposes alternative approaches to peer review, it also implements one of them. […]

  • the press and the university mission (11 comments)

    • Comment by David Parry on September 27th, 2009

      Do you envision each University housing its own press? Where faculty publish via their home institution almost always? This might have some negative effects for those at smaller institutions (fewer IT resources, publications and hosting would not be as good), and negative effects for faculty if/when they choose to switch institutions (there is an advantage as an academic to “rolling your own” and having it merely housed or supported by an institution).

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 27th, 2009

      See below!  I do think that every university needs to develop a publishing strategy, but that need not mean each university has its own press.

      The question of portability is a huge one, especially, as you point out, when faculty change institutions.  I need to ponder the alternatives here a bit.  There’s a definite advantage to rolling your own (witness what I’m up to here, of course), but what the relationship between self-rolled projects and university housing/support structures might be would need to be worked out.

      Comment by David Parry on September 27th, 2009

      oops, should read the whole page before I comment : )

      Comment by David Parry on September 28th, 2009

      I think there is a tension here between the introduction to this book and the model you sketch. The model outlined here focuses mostly on the digital, if not entirely on the digital, whereas the introduction to this work, especially in the framing story, suggests a hybrid model, where the digital assists the print.

      Comment by Dorothea Salo on September 29th, 2009

      There’s an interesting parallel between the “press-as-developer” you suggest and what libraries are realizing vis-a-vis data curation: we know we have to show up MUCH earlier in the research process than we’re accustomed to if the data are to be any good when the research is done. I don’t know if you can do anything with that, but if you think you might, chase up something by Rick Luce or the folks at Purdue’s D2C2.

      Comment by Dorothea Salo on September 29th, 2009

      This is happening at the University of California. Look for Catherine Mitchell’s talks on the subject (she may well have published by this time, but I don’t off the top of my head know).

      Comment by Dorothea Salo on September 29th, 2009

      A warning comment about sustainability may be in order here. Yes, the anthropologists experimented — but Mana’o, the repository that was perhaps the most visible of their experiments, is on shaky ground and looking for rescuers. Succession planning and fallback positions in case of experiment failure are not optional!

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      I’ll look into that; thanks, Dorothea.

      Comment by Natalia Cecire on December 6th, 2009

      This condition also speaks to the phenomenon you mentioned earlier, in which the press functions as/substitutes for part of a tenure review, in which case disinterestedness (or the appearance thereof) would seem to be essential.

      Comment by Jason Baird Jackson on May 7th, 2010

      Thank you for drawing upon the work that colleagues and I did in Kelty et al.  If I can assist you following up on our (increasingly dated) arguements there, please let me know.

      […] comunicazione del sapere si è allontanata dal sapere, per farsi intrapresa editoriale, perché si è preso a trattarla come un marchio d’eccellenza, da accertarsi […]

  • profit, publishing, and the university mission (11 comments)

    • Comment by David Parry on September 27th, 2009

      And third, fewer junior faculty would meet tenure requirements.

      Comment by Dorothea Salo on September 29th, 2009

      spelling nit: “minuscule”

      Comment by Dorothea Salo on September 29th, 2009

      Please enumerate the “more traditional forms of publishing labor.” You wouldn’t believe the number of faculty I’ve met who think that decent typesetting is done without human intervention. So: acquisitions, book design, expert editing, art, proofreading, typesetting, markup, rights clearance…

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      Good point — I’ll definitely lay that out.

      Comment by Toby Green on October 2nd, 2009

      Thompson is quite right. Treating books as a scholarly corpus is the way forward and it works. What works better, it to bundle books with other scholarly works like journals and datasets. This is what OECD has been doing since 2001 and doing so has tranformed the OECD’s Publishing Division’s finances (like University Presses, OECD’s Publishing Division has to fund itself through sales.) Doing so has meant making significant investment in IT and in new skills – OECD Publishing now employs librarians to ensure our metadata is part of our value added service.

      Comment by Paul F. Gehl on February 1st, 2010

      Your plea here, that we not separate the humanities from science fields in terms of whose work merits and demands open access, is absolutely crucial. I hope you can make the argument even stronger than this. Humanities and sciences already have different positions in the scholarly-publishing world –different levels of support, different modes of delivery– largely because they have differnt kinds of access to digital publishing. Separating them further would enlarge the gulf that already exists within universities between practitioners, and further ghetto-ize some fields. Interestingly, some of the oldest-line fields in the humanities (classical philology, medieval studies, linguistics, musicology) have the largest range of digital tools and largest-scale, ongoing publishing projects, most of them broadly collaborative. The long-term success of such projects has so far depended on development grants from government agencies and foundations, and on the willingness of more than one university to host and support the work.

      Comment by Jim Ottaviani on February 18th, 2010

      Regarding note 5.13, when you say “We can all understand the ludicrousness of asking a neuroscience lab to become self-sustaining…” I think that mis-characterizes the funding of many labs, at least at research universities.

      A large portion of the start-up costs for such a lab is of course borne by the university — the scientist typically doesn’t have to worry about paying for the building itself, and maybe not for some of the most basic equipment. (Humanities scholars don’t have to write checks to roofers, plumbers, electricians, or plasters either.)

      But beyond that almost everything from specialized equipment to research assistant salaries to the large overhead (a.k.a. indirect) costs that cover things like administrative support and utilities are written into and paid for by grants. So in that sense, they are self-sustaining. And if the researcher in charge doesn’t continue to get grants the lab itself might not go away but the researcher sure will.

      Comment by Fred Moody on May 26th, 2010

      It’s worth noting, re author subvention, that they are potentially corrupting: proposals from authors now often note that they come with a subvention, the suggestion being that that financial opportunity should factor into the publisher’s decision whether to accept the manuscript. No publisher, of course, would ever admit to factoring subventions into their evaluations–just as no politician would ever admit that campaign contributions exert undue influence on law-making.

      […] riviste delle multinazionali dell’editoria scientifica adottano un modello commerciale vantaggioso soltanto per loro, fondato sull’oligopolio imposto dal marketing dell’ISI (ora: Thomson Reuters Web of […]

      […] reluctant to publish specialized monographs that are unlikely to financially break even.  As Kathleen Fitzpatrick has pointed out, university presses have traditionally relied on financial support from their institutions to make […]

      […] argues that part of the original mission of universities – and university presses – was not just the generation of new knowledge but also its dissemination.  Fitzpatrick thinks that the responsibility for solving this problem therefore rests with […]

  • Four: Preservation (11 comments)

    • Comment by amandafrench on September 23rd, 2009

      Such a nice sly educational moment: “ostensibly intangible.” Computers, after all, are not magic.

      Comment by kari kraus on September 26th, 2009

      The note of resolve in these sentences strikes me as critical:

      “We absolutely must not throw up our hands at that realization, however, and declare the problem intractable; we can and should take steps today to ensure that texts and artifacts produced and preserved under today’s systems remain interoperable with or portable to the systems of tomorrow.”

      Rhetorically this is an important move (given the accelerated rate of technological obsolescence documented in prior sentences) in the way it disarms defeatist thinking about digital preservation.

      Comment by Dorothea Salo on September 28th, 2009

      David Drake’s Overdue Notice: Poems from the Library has a charming short poem about analog and digital format permanence. Recommended, possibly as an epigraph for this chapter!

      Comment by Dorothea Salo on September 29th, 2009

      Is there room somewhere in this discussion to point out that there is an immense (in terms of staff, space, and cost) infrastructure in place already to preserve print? That this structure is entirely invisible to most people, even people heavily involved in print culture? (How many people have been inside a book conservation lab? A bindery?) That the existence of this infrastructure seriously calls into question the idea that ink-on-paper is automatically more durable than bits on hard drive?

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      Oh, of course — that definitely needs to come in here.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      Thanks for the reference!

      Comment by Fred Moody on May 25th, 2010

      Your “flash in the pan” passage brings to mind what happened to me only this morning: Amazon emailed me that they had sent my Kindle an updated and corrected copy of Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates, without warning. Gone were my annotations, along with the version of the book I’d read. It no longer existed in Kindle edition form. Amazon apologized–an telling approach to announcing that a “service” or “improvement” had just been delivered.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on May 25th, 2010

      Wow – that’s astonishing.  How kind of them to provide an upgrade!

      Here’s hoping that incidents like this one will force Amazon and other such content distributors to develop new processes for maintaining the currency of their texts.

      […] are experiments in academia as well. It’s only a matter of time before marginalia processes […]

      […] effimera delle tavole di pietra, la carta stampata appare convenzionalmente più affidabile dei testi digitalizzati, esposti al malfunzionamento degli strumenti – […]

      […] are experiments in academia as well. It’s only a matter of time before marginalia processes develop into a form suitable […]

  • the reputation economy (10 comments)

    • Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on August 31st, 2009

      I need to tinker with this discussion some, to account for Wikipedia’s recent addition of flagged and patrolled revisions.

      Comment by David Parry on September 22nd, 2009

      Perhaps, but I think the issue of flag and patrolled versions doesn’t change your analysis here. In fact in one regard Wikipedia is actually now more open. See Wales’s response to recent changes.

      Comment by David Parry on September 22nd, 2009

      David Weinberger makes a similar point when he argues with respect to journalism that, “transparency is the new objectivity.”

      […] of academic, peer-review publishing and argues for revising the process to be more open. In one section, she makes a good case for reviewer reputation as a necessary requirement for open reviewing (the […]

      Comment by valfazel on January 6th, 2010

      (second to last sentence) maybe should be “is less the date that is being filtered, than the human filter itself . . .”

      Comment by Paul F. Gehl on January 17th, 2010

      Footnote 32 here contains information about misogyny that some of your more generalists readers might want to read in text. Another example of bias of a different sort would strengthen your important point here. The simple fact is that some communities –independently of the “majority of idiots” phenomenon– are more supportive and collegial than others. The narrower the interest, the smaller the interest group and the more likely the community will be supportive. Adding anonymity, in many if not most cases, simply encourages individuals to act outside community norms and therefore to be less than constructive.

      Comment by Nick Mirzoeff on February 8th, 2010

      I suppose this discussion highlights the “pharmakon” of the term peer itself: in one usage, it’s an equal as in a “jury of one’s peers.” In another it’s a noble or other aristocrat, as in “peer of the realm.”

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on February 16th, 2010

      Excellent point, Paul; I do think that discussion needs to be pulled into the main text — if only to emphasize the degree to which we as a community must take responsibility for the collegiality with which we conduct ourselves…

      […] media means that the only working system is publish-then-filter” (Here Comes Everybody 98). . . [Read this Fitzpatrick (2009) passage in context] […]

      […] Planned Obsolescence, Kathleen Fitzpatrick discusses potential futures of peer review. While discussing Noah […]

  • the future of peer review (10 comments)

    • Comment by David Parry on September 22nd, 2009

      Are there any humanities based examples of this (outside of individual endeavors like Noah’s)? The only example I know of is CSearch, which is more an open access archive, rather than a peer review system.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 22nd, 2009

      That’s it, as far as I know; I’ll be interested to hear if other folks have examples they can point us toward.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 25th, 2009

      Actually, now that I’ve thought about it, I’d point to the experimental review process in place at electronic book review — but I’m not sure that system quite does what I’m after, either.  The reviews are closed rather than open, as far as I can tell, and if I’m remembering correctly they’re also anonymous.  (I say “if I’m remembering correctly” because my login stopped working several months ago and though I wrote to try to have it fixed I never got a response.)  So there is that example, but I’m not sure how far it’s really going toward open review.

      Comment by Katherine Rowe on January 16th, 2010

      Shakespeare Quarterly is currently experimenting with an open review process on this site (many thanks to the MediaCommons team). This process applies to a special issue on “Shakespeare and New Media.” So far as I have been able to determine this is the first traditional, high-profile humanities journal to undertake such an experiment. Our model is partly informed by KF’s discussions of earlier experiments in this chapter. SQ’s traditional review process has a very rigorous upfront assessment of whether a submission is of “refereeable quality”. The editorial team noted that such a rigorous pre-screening process has been important to the success of arXiv’s refereeing mechanisms and has retained it in this open review experiment. We also looked carefully at the Nature experiment and KF’s analysis of it here, and therefore created separate workflows where for submissions undergoing open review, reviewers comments will bear on SQ’s editorial decision on whether or not to publish any given paper.

      Comment by Grey Maixner on February 16th, 2012

      Would there be any hope of employing a form of gameism to such a peer review website? If we look at sites that are more public and deal with less academic material we see many that reward users with various degrees of power. A good example would be newgrounds.com, where, the more posts you make and the better your reputation is on the site the more weight your reviews will have. They include a tracking system and ‘badges’ to help track ones progress.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on February 17th, 2012

      Thanks for the example! While there are a lot of good reasons to cringe at the idea of badging in connection with scholarly processes, a means like this of representing community reputation and participation is likely to be one key to encouraging engagement.

      Comment by M. Elizabeth Bomhower on July 7th, 2013

      I can’t help but wonder, though, if what Nature deemed a failed experiment, was to be repeated now – just 7 years later – would the results differ? Was the notion of open-source peer review still too new of a concept then? The idea of collaborative peer review is, arguably, becoming more popular, more familiar, understood and even commonplace. So, I find myself wondering if the quality and quantity of open reviews would be greatly enhanced if this experiment were re initiated?

      Comment by M. Elizabeth Bomhower on July 7th, 2013

      If only anonymous reviews are considered, though, where is the reassurance for the academe? I think this may, in fact, contribute to their resistance as there is no clear “pecking order” or hierarchy in which to place scholarly “faith” in.

      Comment by S F McGinley on July 7th, 2013

      I find it interesting as well in light of Nature’s side by side comparison of Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica in, I think ’05, that was surprisingly favorable to Wikipedia.  I think early “failed” experiments are perhaps closer to parameter setting via experiment or trial and error.

      […] and post-publication, but I’ll get to that in another post.)  Fitzpatrick argues that the scholarly discussions that occur online are, in fact, a form of peer review.  They just happen to be post-publication peer review.  Fitzpatrick acknowledges that accepting […]

  • and beyond (10 comments)

    • Comment by amandafrench on September 23rd, 2009

      It’s always interesting to me just how important seemingly small differences in engineering are; they make a big difference to the kinds of conversation that can be had. There are many, many flavors of community, interaction, social networking out there, and they’re so distinct as to be platform-specific. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Usenet newsgroups, e-mail listservs, wiki talk pages, blogs — they all perform the same basic function of facilitating conversation, but we apparently need them all, and more.

      Comment by David Parry on September 27th, 2009

      Is there a reason this page doesn’t have a header like the others? rhetorical intention?

      Comment by David Parry on September 27th, 2009

      I think it is important to think of the hardware side of the user interface as well here. For example as much as I enjoy reading this text, I find I cannot read it for as long as I can a print one. This is not because of any Nicholas Carr type reason where I get distracted, but rather the simple fact of having a back lit screen means I need to take more frequent breaks. And let’s face it the Kindle is not nearly good enough yet.

      Comment by David Parry on September 27th, 2009

      One way to help rein in the chaos, or a future feature of comment press that might be useful, is if there would be a way to sort the comments.For instance if I could sort by “comment threads started by Amanda French” or “comments with most replies” or “length of comment” or even “hide comments by” a specified user.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 27th, 2009

      Only that it’s not really a section in the flow of the print text — just an artificial break created so that this page wasn’t too appallingly long. I thought about adding the header, but wasn’t sure if it would be more disruptive than helpful…

      Comment by Shane Landrum on October 3rd, 2009

      So, this “open mode of review” you’re talking about seems like it could be useful at different levels: the dissertation chapter, the scholarly article, the book. But the degree of exposure authors and reviewers may want to have for each of those is different, and whether reviewers may want their comments to be viewable in the same stream—or to one another— varies from case to case. And the last thing most scholars want to deal with is a colleague who leaves harsh comments scribbled in the margins of a draft, but when that colleague’s posting the comments online, they’re that much more visible to all concerned.

      By “an open mode of review,” do you mean “open” in the sense that everyone who reads the original text can read the comments as well? Because if so, then public attribution of comments matters too, because it motivates readers to mark up texts in ways that reflect positively on themselves. If the online commenter is anonymous (as in a journal submission process), there’s more motivation for her to say things that she might not say with her name attached to them. If Reviewer Alice isn’t anonymous, she has to think about not only her conversation with the author, but the fact that they’re having a public conversation in front of colleagues… and that Reviewer Bob may well take notice of her comments in a way that helps or harms her scholarly reputation.

      I’d like to see some elaboration of these social dynamics here or elsewhere in your discussion. I gather from looking at the table of contents that I’ll see those in a future chapter, but at this point in reading, I’m not entirely sure. Here, I think you’re talking about what the author stands to gain from a blog-based review process. But what about the commenters and their place within a scholarly reputation system?

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 3rd, 2009

      Actually, it’s in a previous chapter; you seem to have started in the middle of things here.  The chapter on peer review has a bit more discussion of the issues you’re raising, though perhaps it might stand to be beefed up a bit.  Check out the section on “peer-to-peer review” in particular; the point is precisely that in an open system of review, the most important element is precisely review of the reviewers.  Commenting in the sense that you describe it here becomes a part of the public work that we as scholars do, and for which we ought to be held accountable.  We’ve developed ways of dealing with conflict in the comments sections of blogs, and I’m arguing that we need to develop ways to deal with such disagreement in reviews as well, to allow for a productive back-and-forth among reviewers, and between reviewers and authors.

      Comment by Natalia Cecire on November 8th, 2009

      I agree. Additionally, I commented earlier today that I’ve been leaving this book open in a Firefox tab for something like a month. It occurred to me to wonder why I was doing that — it wasn’t because I needed to consult the book every ten minutes or anything like that. Rather, I realized, I was leaving it in my browser so I wouldn’t lose my spot! It’s sort of like leaving a physical book face-down on a table. If there’s a way to mark where you left off reading in CommentPress (and there may well be), I don’t know what it is. And it would be really nice to have such a thing if we’re going to read monograph-length works on a screen, precisely because of the need for reading breaks that David mentions.

      Comment by carrual on February 10th, 2010

      You might elaborate on the final point here about the database and database-driven scholarship. How does this tie back to your earlier arguments for new models of collaboration? Beyond peer-to-peer review, how do some of these new forms of textual production and reception enable new forms of humanistic inquiry (such as the use of data sets)?

      Comment by adlangmead on May 27th, 2014

      As this site continues to stay live and continues to accept comments, I will be interested to see how the comments change…the book is no longer truly under peer-to-peer review, insofar as the author will probably not be inclined to change the ur-text over there to the left, but, the readers may have conversations over here on the margins. Perhaps we have all become “students” of the book, rather than “peers?”

  • from intellectual property to the gift economy (9 comments)

    • Comment by amandafrench on September 22nd, 2009

      I think “would reserve to the ability” is a typo for  “would reserve to authors the ability” — correct? (Not dead: just disappeared.)

      Comment by amandafrench on September 22nd, 2009

      Re note 2.29, am I right to think that writing / editing / compiling a textbook doesn’t really count for tenure? Talk about not adhering to marketplace values.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 25th, 2009

      Oh, yes! Poor author.  (Thanks.)

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 25th, 2009

      Oh, absolutely — in fact, I’ve heard rumors of cases in which this kind of work has actually counted against the scholar…

      Comment by carrual on February 10th, 2010

      And yet, I would hazard that a scholarly gift economy could widen the gap between the profits that corporations and institutions accrue due to academic research and the incomes of scholars (particularly in the humanities). I find your argument for a scholarly gift economy incredibly compelling, but then I wonder about the profit that Google earns via projects like Google Scholar.

      Comment by carrual on February 10th, 2010

      A compelling argument. I might expand this point.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on February 16th, 2010

      Good point.  My sense is that it’s necessary to link the scholarly gift economy to a kind of moral imperative to participate, encouraging scholars to reject profit-driven publications in favor of those that promote open access…

      […] From Intellectual property to the gift economy, The Institute for the Future of the Book: […]

      Comment by Ed Stegall on October 1st, 2014

      The open release of music is not a success for the corporations struggling to control the industry, but it has been a success for the artists.  Radiohead, Harvey Danger, and several others have published their income from this release method, and their income is significantly better than allowing the distribution companies to take their content.

  • standards (9 comments)

    • Comment by amandafrench on September 23rd, 2009

      I’m a little unclear on what the 4.14 note that quote Bosak is referring to, here: is it that the legions who use XML have no idea that TEI exists?

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 25th, 2009

      Yes, I suppose — and now that I look at it, the note may get cut.  What I was thinking about at the time was the paradoxical nature of having created an encoding system that was influential enough to serve as the basis for something as enormous as XML without anyone really knowing that that influence existed — a situation somehow emblematic of the situation of too much scholarly innovation, perhaps, but I’m not entirely sure what I want to do with that.

      Comment by Dorothea Salo on September 29th, 2009

      Again, there are standards related to preservation in the print world too, e.g. ISO and ANSI standards for archival acid-free paper.

      Comment by Dorothea Salo on October 6th, 2009

      Well, perhaps one thing to note is that XML went in directions that are utterly horrifying from the point of view of those still wanting to use it for humanistic text. Namespaces are horrible, and XML Schema is worse: they happened because of people wanting to swap non-textual data around. On the other hand, the problem of overlapping text structures STILL hasn’t been solved, not for lack of trying by the original TEI coterie and people like them.

      Comment by Kevin Hawkins on October 9th, 2009

      It’s a bit misleading to say that particular HTML elements came from SGML since SGML, like XML, has no vocabulary of its own, just a syntax.  You could, however, say that HTML has elements meant to describe the structure of the text (like <h1> and <p>) rather than just elements to describe appearance (like <font> and <b>).  Bringing <head> into the picture muddles the argument since <head> vs. <body> just shows that the HTML people, like many SGML people, understood that you would want to include metadata with the electronic text and that you would want the metadata to go at the beginning of the file rather than the end.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 9th, 2009

      Thanks for the clarification, Kevin; that’s really helpful.

      Comment by Matt Kirschenbaum on October 18th, 2009

      X-Lit is unlikely to ever advance beyond the conceptual stage; while the work that Alan’s group did is breathtaking, we found that we were thinking largely along the same lines as the Variable Media Network, which came out of the digital arts and museum community. They got the funding, and the results are well worth looking at, particularly Rick Rinehart’s MANS (Media Art Notation System) which is something close to a working schema for variable media preservation, no small achievement.

      Comment by Natalia Cecire on November 13th, 2009

      Typo: not reign but rein.

      […] proprietari,  sostenuti comunitariamente – come illustra la transizione dell’HTML dal caos dell’inizio degli anni ’90 del secolo scorso alla standardizzazione tramite il  W3C, o […]

  • from product to process (9 comments)

    • Comment by amandafrench on September 22nd, 2009

      “Only at the point of completion, after all, can our projects at last attain their final purpose: the entry of a new item on the CV.”

      I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats.

      Comment by amandafrench on September 22nd, 2009

      I can imagine institutional or even legal definitions being imposed on the word “version.” Sometimes I wish we had them, in fact: there’s a clear economic incentive in versioning for software developers, textbook publishers, and other slithy toves.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 25th, 2009

      Indeed.  There are entire industries, including publishing, based upon the — heh — planned obsolescence of the version; add a paragraph or change the font size, repaginate the text, and suddenly the old version has become worthless.  I really want to see that mode of versioning done away with, but I’m not exactly holding my breath.  (Yet.)

      Comment by David Parry on September 26th, 2009

      There is a certain irony here, where the academic discipline most inclined to critique the logic of capitalism, “produce, produce,” is also the one least aware, or at least not willing to admit, that this is the very logic it imposes on its own practice.

      Comment by David Parry on September 26th, 2009

      I’ll just reiterate here, that this is precisely why the book might not be up to the task, might indeed need to be hoisted into its grave rather than raised from the dead. Books have ideological limits which might be overcome, allowing them to become something different, but they also have technological limits, which might ultimately mean they are not the best means for scholarship.

      Comment by amandafrench on September 30th, 2009

      Another bald, bitter point about Fordist demands on scholarly productivity: the university itself has become a degree factory, and in the case of humanities Ph.D.s is of course churning out a much greater supply than the (job) market will bear. Right now the gorfed-up system of academic publishing means that that oversupply goes quietly away, having demonstrably failed to meet an objective standard of excellence, and the universities are therefore free to continue taking tuition money from fresh-faced innocents.

      Comment by George Carr on February 17th, 2010

      You mention but don’t discuss the phenomenon of student-textbook authoring, which is almost completely reserved for academic writers; it appears to an outsider like me that textbooks are intentionally versioned, to maximize sales of ‘new edition’ paper copies, and exclude students who try to save a few bucks by buying last year’s version.  And yet academic authors include such authoring on their CVs with pride, and I’m told such books are far more lucrative to the author than standard university-press fare.  So the phenomenon of ‘discrete projects’ is less universal than you argue.

      Also consider software engineers, who ‘version’ their work in the interest of transparency; even academic software writers (and those who judge them for advancement and tenure) are aware that versioning is commonplace when improved algorithms and ideas are incorporated in a work, and should be rewarded. 

      I know neither of these examples fits the model of money-losing ‘broken’ academic publishing you are considering overall, but you might give some thought to how/whether they overlap with the more typical humanities-book authors you are focusing on.

      Comment by George Carr on February 17th, 2010

      But this focus on process cries out for a reconsideration of the classification of ‘publication’ as a separate leg of the stool upon which an academic career rests.  Because academics are already required to revisit/revise their previous work in the preparation of classroom syllabi and the selection of each semester’s reading list.  If the academy begins to reward faculty for curating an online, versioned, collaborative discussion of the latest advances in the field, won’t such an archive quickly become the syllabus for individual-seminar or graduate-level study with that faculty member?  This overlap with the teaching function seems momentous to me, even if it’s not that different from how students currently pick their favorite graduate advisor, by looking at who’s talking about what on the lecture circuit lately.

      […] want my work to be as good as it can be. But it is to say that I need to follow my own advice about valuing process over product a bit more, as well as embrace the “release early and often” ethos that’s been so […]

  • credentialing (9 comments)

    • Comment by David Parry on September 22nd, 2009

      I think this also has the result of affecting the content of the scholarship junior faculty produce. Junior faculty are advised, and often take said advice, to work on something that is publishable.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 25th, 2009

      Absolutely — and in the safest forms possible.  In fact, a study of UC faculty that was done a couple of years ago showed, fascinatingly enough, that the most conservative sector of the faculty with respect to considering new modes of digital publishing was junior faculty, who for all the obvious reasons are reluctant to strike out into risky territory…

      Comment by Maria Bustillos on October 2nd, 2009

      And not just publishable, from what I can make out as a civilian, but which actually endorses and strengthens the work of the seniors who are doing the advising.  Cui bono, as usual (?)

      […] the chance to have their input showcased in print.” (Score 1 for grad students!!) Picking up on Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s work on open review as a way to rethink how institutions credit the labor of reviewing, Rowe […]

      Comment by Suresh Venkat on September 30th, 2011

      The problem is in the implementation of that notion as an exercise in gatekeeping, and its subsequent transformation into a means of creating authority in and of itselfThis is an excellent point.

      […] a judgment made behind closed doors—can now be organized openly and the record of that process can improve the scholarship by exposing self-interests, or biased agendas. This open process alters […]

      […] judgement made behind closed doors — can now be organized openly and the record of that process can improve the scholarship by exposing self interests, or biased agendas. This open process […]

      […] a judgement made behind closed doors — can now be organized openly and the record of that process can improve the scholarship by exposing self interests, or biased agendas. This open process […]

      […] a judgement made behind closed doors — can now be organized openly and the record of that process can improve the scholarship by exposing self interests, or biased agendas. This open process alters […]

  • overview (8 comments)

    • Comment by Julie Levin Russo on September 28th, 2009


      Comment by idealrealist on October 20th, 2009

      You perhaps rightly state “what we accomplish, we accomplish alone” as far as most of academia is concerned. However, there are exceptions to the rule, I am pleased to say. During the past 4 years I have observed a group of scholars (primarily from the humanities) working together at a Centre for excellence. The results they’ve achieved thus far, which can only be described as path-breaking in their field, have been in  the main a cooperative effort. So yours is not an utopian ideal:-)

      Comment by idealrealist on October 20th, 2009

      It is my impression that a great deal of “intellectual discussion in contemporary public life” (outside the academy) does indeed take place online, and it is disappointing that more academics in the humanities do not engage in public discussions online. Scholarly engagement  online either through publishing or through lectures open to all, would be valuable in educating the world’s public. If an international group of public health experts can put their lectures online, why is it so difficult for the humanities or social sciences to follow suit?

      Comment by idealrealist on October 20th, 2009

      This reads like a manifesto for digital scholarship in the humanities-well done!

      Comment by michaelroy on October 28th, 2009

      Although you may resist this idea, you should consider turning up the volume even further in this section, suggesting that the crisis is not just around scholarly communication, but more generally around higher education in general and liberal arts education in particular. By making this link, you are more apt to capture the attention of presidents and trustees who worry about such things, while not necessarily worrying so much about the details of the tenure system. But the problem is not something that a single college can solve all by itself; there is a way in which you need to differentiate between individual schools that are institutions, and the industry/institution of higher ed. The issues you are grappling with are industry issues that no school all by itself can come to grips with.

      Comment by Michel Bauwens on November 30th, 2009

      Dear author,

      We operate a Book of the Week program at the P2P Foundation blog, so if you’re interesed, we’d like to feature this book.

      This usually involves a general presentation followed by 2 significant experts, for publication every other day during a particular week,

      Thanks for letting me know in case of interest via michelsub2004 at gmail,


      Comment by Steve Brier on April 20th, 2010

      This is a smart insight on Michael Roy’s part (Hello, Michael!). We fight for tenure and promotion within a single institution, but the ramifications of any change in that process play out much more broadly and systemically. Framing the conclusion more broadly might help put this issue  in front of upper level administrators, Dean/Provost level and above, who must be brought into this discussion if the overall framework governing university relations is to change. If we only speak to our fellow departmental faculty and/or our chairs, nothing much will change.

      Comment by Colin Reynolds on November 10th, 2010

      In your line, “We must collectively consider what new technologies have to offer not us, not just in terms of the cost of publishing or access to publications,” the first “not” might be a typo.

  • from text to... something more (8 comments)

    • Comment by amandafrench on September 22nd, 2009

      “rather that”

      Comment by David Parry on September 26th, 2009

      Eisenstein makes a similar point about the printing press in relation to scientific knowledge. That the bringing together of text and image in news ways itself constituted a revolution of sorts which feed a revolution of scientific thought.

      Comment by Natalia Cecire on October 19th, 2009

      There seems to be a lurking question of professionalism here turning on the difference between art and criticism. I think there have been a lot of efforts to test that distinction, whether in text alone or across media,  especially in nontraditional departments like ethnic studies, gender and women’s studies, performance studies, and film. A successful example might be Susan Howe’s The Birth-Mark, a work of criticism and poetry. (It could also be said that a lot of Howe’s “straight” poetry does critical work, of course — I think that’s a separate issue, though).

      Lynch’s point about needing print “translations” of academic work in new formats speaks to the extent to which experimental academic work in these disciplines have been marginalized as nonrigorous. I think for some of the experimental work that’s been done in performance studies etc., the impossibility of becoming the dominant paradigm or being easily subsumed under the existing one was partly the point. But I don’t think that’s true of the kind of boundary-pushing you’re talking about here.

      To what extent does working across media and truly exploring the possibilities afforded thereby mean opening academic work to explicitly artistic ends? And how might it, unlike those earlier marginalized experiments, change the existing monograph culture?

      Comment by alex on December 3rd, 2009

      My own work making YouTube videos instead of (as well as) writing papers leads me to the very same conclusion. There is much we want to hold on to from paper writing that is lost when we go multi-modal.

      Comment by alex on December 3rd, 2009

      I imagine that some discussion of feminist writing about collaboration in your conclusion would be a value added.

      Comment by Mar on March 20th, 2010

      I was just thinking about feminist writing as well. And about performative writing too.

      Comment by Tom Quick on August 27th, 2010

      I believe this and the above two paragraphs make a key point – that digital scholarship needs to acknowledge the embodiment of text in the materials of its production. I think you are making a complimentary case to N. Katherine Hayles – that such a commitment to embodiment is as much about how we think of ourselves as readers and writers, as it is about technological mediation between microprocessors, bits and screens.

      See especially her ‘My Mother Was a Computer’ http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/321487.html

      […] and Erik Loyer, (4) “DH: The Name that Does No Favors” by Shannon Mattern, and (5) “From Text to . . . Something More” (in Planned Obsolescence) by Kathleen […]

  • documents, e-books, pages (8 comments)

    • Comment by Dorothea Salo on September 28th, 2009

      It may be worth pointing out that the transition to print underwent a similar rear-view mirrorism: consider, for example, the history of the typeface, which started as a (rather brutish and ugly) aping of the manuscript hand, but soon developed its own design canons that were for the most part wholly divorced from handwriting.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      Oh, excellent point, Dorothea — thanks!

      […] portrait layout, partially because of the limitations of screen width and partially because of the rear-view mirrorism that caused us to think about these new digital forms as “pages.” That concept has […]

      Comment by kac232 on May 25th, 2014

      I think that the reason people haven’t abandoned print books for digital ones is because they don’t want to.  In my opinion, the only advantage of reading something digitally (in any format) is that I can search the text, including my types annotations.  Also, I have terrible handwriting and my notes are much easier to read when typed.  I guess also the LOCKSS principle applies to digital stuff.  they have a lot of drawbacks, though.  You have to carry around an expensive device to access them.  You can only annotate in limited ways.  You have to stare at an electronic screen (somewhat remedied by the kindle), etc.    

      Comment by lydia on May 27th, 2014

      This makes a lot of sense that our terminology will quickly become out of data, but it is still hard to imagine calling an eBook anything else since this term currently seems so logical. 

      Comment by ianm on May 27th, 2014

      I can’t help but think of this relating to skeuomorphisms found in use on computers and other devices today that emulate older formats or objects at the attempt at creating user comfort. While I don’t necessarily think this is the same idea, I think some connection can be made  in this idea that we’re thinking about electronic and digital texts in terms of what we’re familiar with. I’m curious to see where things might stand in 50 or 100 years as move further away from the comfort of printed text.

      Comment by Liz on May 27th, 2014

       I do not entirely agree with the point the author is trying to make in this paragraph. She explains that the development of e-book formats has suffered from the need to define the new technology in terms of the old, in this case the printed book. I am curious as to how else people could be initiated into the digital text world if not in terms with which they are already somewhat familiar. As limiting as attempting to mimic bound volumes has been on this new technology, it is the faithfulness of that very visual and structural replication that I have heard most often praised by individuals utilizing e-books. 

      Comment by gap on May 26th, 2015

      The existence of PDF documents as somehow part of and not part of the digital sphere is fascinating in its persistence. Perhaps it is because these documents are irrevocably tied to print forms, as Fitzpatrick notes in the following paragraph. On a similar note, even the Kindle described here does not integrate with its digital context in especially compelling ways (although hyperlinked chapters/footnotes and searchable annotations are a definite step up). I wonder how much of this latter example has to do with the proprietary nature of eReaders such as the Kindle.

  • reading and the communications circuit (8 comments)

    • Comment by David Parry on September 27th, 2009

      “That said, the technology of the book, which fostered the notion of the text as the discrete, unique, authentic product of an individual author — what Joseph Esposito has referred to as ‘the myth of the primal book’ — ”
      This passage seems more techno determinist than your prior analysis. Is it really the technology of the book, or the social reception of that technology—not that the question is that reductive. Earlier in this work you seem to side more with Johns, but here this reads more like Eisenstein.

      Comment by David Parry on September 27th, 2009

      This will also require us to rethink not only how we use the library, but how they are designed. Architecture of physical space, in this digital distribution, will still be important. My favorite example of this is the Seattle Public Library, where the library is turned upside down. Meeting and collaboration in the main areas, with books “stored” above in one continuous space rather than broken areas.

      Comment by Dorothea Salo on September 28th, 2009

      The “information commons” movement in library space and service design may be of interest to you here. It is explicitly aimed at bringing learners, librarians, technology, and information resources together to create learning and even new knowledge.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      Hmmm.  Bad phrasing; I definitely need to recast that.  Thanks for pointing it out.

      Comment by Natalia Cecire on October 24th, 2009

      I disagree with David Parry’s reading. To say that the form of the (small) book fostered private reading isn’t necessarily deterministic; I read the sentence as suggesting that the physical properties of the object pointed our idea of reading in the same direction as did other forces. It sounds pretty noncontroversial to me.

      Comment by Natalia Cecire on October 24th, 2009

      Hidden, in this model, is the labor of research assistants, of course, who are often co-reading with and/or predigesting for the author.

      Comment by maggievaughn147 on February 28th, 2013

      I feel like this idea of communial engagement with texts has been carried out by literary critics for centuries. I believe this may be why it has not been encouraged amongst the ranks of us who are not at a publishing level. Opening this conversation up to the public could have many positive outcomes, both on a scholarly level and on a casual level.

      Comment by Esther Hoorn on March 15th, 2013

      To my this was an eye-opener for discussions on the role of the libraries to promote the shift towards Open Access.

  • from individual to collaborative (8 comments)

    • Comment by alex on December 3rd, 2009

      Three thoughts here, Kathleen. 1) as you know, filmmaking or new-media authoring always (except in the rare solo-prationer mode) depends upon collaboration, one of the reasons many of of us work there: for these many pleasures, no need to list here. 2) book writing has never worked that way, it’s a different practice with different pleasures. I like both for their unique strengths. 3) While comment press serves to bring in the dialogue you are discussing here, so might as well, in other ways, a more radical re-figuring of the book itself, one that is less page and text bound than the one you build here. One that would necessarily rely on designers, artists, etc. I know you know all this, of course, so wonder if you’ll explain why you’re not exploding the book later int this book (more in line with your work at IFB).

      Comment by Jenée Wilde on February 7th, 2010

      As I read this thoughtful analysis of the challenges and potentials of digital collaboration, I kept wanting to hear about the example at hand: this text. I do hope that, in the “final” version you publish as a traditional book, you include as a specific and highly relevant example the process of digital collaboration that this web site represents. I’m very curious as to the influences these thoughtful commentators are having on your work right now.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on February 16th, 2010

      Absolutely, Jenée!  I’m writing a conclusion to the text now that’s largely focused on this process and what it’s taught me: about community, about openness, about labor…

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on April 5th, 2010

      I’m working my way through these comments in the process of revising, and see that I never responded here. Thanks for the comment, Alex.  The primary reason why I’m not exploding the book with this project is that I’m trying very hard to avoid simply preaching to the choir.  There are a number of exciting ways that I could have made this project far more mediated, and it could have served as an example of certain kinds of possibilities in that regard.  But it’s really important to me that it have if not a primary then at least a final life in print, that it get out there and do evangelical work amongst the unconverted.  So this project has always had “bookness” embedded in its structure, precisely because I want it to get into the hands of administrators, where it might have the most effect.

      Comment by Jenna Pack on February 10th, 2011

      I think that Henry Jenkins’ discussion of collective intelligence would be interesting to include here.

      Comment by claireclivaz on July 31st, 2011

      Dear Kathleen,
      I appreciate so much your book! I am reading it in July 2011, and I have seen that the paper version will finally be published in novembre 2011. What does represent for you this paper version? Does it make finally some sense? Can you still find meaning in a closed paper object? Will it have traces of the commentaries put online?

      […] recognition for online publication among MLA and T&P committees. She has argued persuasively in Planned Obsolescence that the culture of academe has constructed the author as someone who both researches, reads and […]

      Comment by eetempleton on February 28th, 2013

      Collaboration and coauthorship is something that I’ve thought a great deal about, at least as it applies to early 20C poetry (trigger dissertation nightmare). I argue that T. S. Eliot’s “Tradition & the Individual Talent” posits a version of collaboration that is very similar to what you are talking about here. For Eliot, the writing is “artistic” rather than “academic,” or “creative” rather than “scholarly,” but the main premise that writers are always already in conversation with writing that came before, whether by weeks or centuries, is the same. He takes it further and posits an interesting predecessor to the feedback loop, which is to say that later works inform our reading of the earlier material just as the earlier material inform our understand of what follows.

  • access (7 comments)

    • Comment by amandafrench on September 23rd, 2009

      Missing an “of,” here — “the circulation much misinformation.”

      Comment by Dorothea Salo on September 29th, 2009

      “pre-print, manuscript form.” It’s slightly more complicated than that. Journal publishers typically write policy around three versions of a paper: the pre-print, which is the manuscript prior to peer review; the post-print, which is the post-peer-review manuscript submitted to the publisher for copyediting and typesetting; and the publisher’s final typeset document (almost always PDF).

      Comment by Dorothea Salo on September 29th, 2009

      Oops, I see you addressed that above. I do recommend that you be more explicit about it; I run into a LOT of faculty who do not understand the distinctions.

      Comment by Dorothea Salo on September 29th, 2009

      typo, or [sic]? “they do not to take” doesn’t need the “to.”

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      Will do!

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      [sic], actually; I’ll make it “they do not [get] to take…”

      […] sopravvive – cioè continua a esistere in rete – solo se rimane ad accesso aperto. Gli archivi aperti, tuttavia, sono pensati per l’accessibilità dei contenuti piuttosto che per la conservazione […]

  • mla task force (7 comments)

    • Comment by David Parry on September 16th, 2009

      Is there such a thing as publishing on the web? I realize this is something a digital curmudgeon might say, but I think in some sense this sentiment could be correct. That is, to “publish” means, or at least comes from “to make public.” So that on the one hand writing on the web is always publishing in that it always is making something public, but on the other if there is no writing which is private, or at least not writing on the web, then does the distinction between public and private hold, between publishing and not-publishing? I think one of the things that happens online is that the distinction between public and private (hence publishing and not-publishing) ceases to be as clear as it was in prior media moments.

      Comment by amandafrench on September 20th, 2009

      Really love that last point — I’d never instituted that comparison before, but of course you’re absolutely right. Even software development projects within the academy (as opposed to those within govt or corporations) proceed faster than policy development projects within the academy.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 20th, 2009

      Interesting points!  I think I could bear to ponder this a bit — but I do want that sense of “making work public” to be visible here…

      Comment by Natalia Cecire on September 29th, 2009

      There are different levels of publicness on the web, no? For instance, a piece of writing is more public on an open blog than behind a paywall, on a forum with a login, or on Facebook. And it seems as if the more conventionally “published” a piece of writing is, the less public it is. For instance, a journal article on Project Muse is not so public, but it is very published, probably because it also appears in print, but maybe also because Muse is very well catalogued and tagged. A blog post is more public and less “published,” maybe because it is web-native, and maybe also because it can only be found through linking and search engines.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      Excellent point, Natalia; I like that a lot…

      Comment by michaelroy on October 28th, 2009

      I remain mystified at one level by how the shift from print to digital somehow or another sullies the credibility and prestige of a publication. On another level, the issue is not the medium or the platform, but instead the prestige. The MLA really should have told its senior scholars to dump their affiliations with print journals and to start up open access on-line journals.

      Comment by michaelroy on October 28th, 2009

      I suspect that published and peer reviewed is the key distinction here. The core to all of this is peer review. But peer review (as I suspect we will learn if we read on) means something different in an online, media-rich environment.

  • anonymity (6 comments)

    • Comment by George Carr on February 16th, 2010

      Is this “cloud of intellectual bias” measurable?  I know you’re intentionally not getting into a long discussion of epistomology here, but the gatekeeping function of peer review does involve the rejection of unsupported, previously rejected, or improperly founded arguments or conclusions, thus complicating the labeling of such gatekeeping as ‘bias.’ 

      And as I’m sure you’ll discuss later, this bias is often an extension of the prestige bias you already mentioned, which can then circle back on itself in the case of incorrect judgments.  E.g. Einstein’s early papers on relativity, which were rejected by prestigious journals but ultimately published in less prestigious ones, whose prestige was then increased by having published such groundbreaking work.  So there is a distinction to be drawn between a ‘bias’ that’s pervasive across an entire field, and one that is more limited, to the prestige economy within a field.

      Comment by Aaron McCollough on February 18th, 2010

      Sure, the gatekeeping function involves the rejection of unsupported, previously rejected, or unfounded arguments, but it doesn’t systematically prevent them. On the contrary, peer reviewed scholarship is filled with such pollutants. Reviewers are far more lenient with those that happen to align with their broader view of the question under examination. Measuring the “cloud of intellectual bias” would therefore be a matter of doing the history of failed arguments and then testing it against why is getting through.

      […] Fitzpatrick offers an overview of peer review’s roots, speculating on their current viability. Likewsie Noah Wardrip-Fruin has enumerated his the ways in […]

      Comment by Suresh Venkat on September 30th, 2011

      A further aspect of intellectual bias is the ‘blink’ aspect of reviewing: reviewers often form opinions of papers early on, and then find rationalizations to justify their decision. This can often be seen in the painful review-revise cycle, where one set of reviewers write one set of complaints that the author fixes, only to be faced by a different set of complaints by possibly different reviewers (at a different venue). The actual bias never really comes through

      Comment by Duncan Agnew on December 14th, 2011

      In my experience (as an editor at a journal in the sciences) this is very far from true. Most reviewers recommend revision (along a spectrum from major to slight), and the author then has time to submit a revised version. Almost always this improves the paper, with the author agreeing that the comments were useful. And often (this is up to the editor) the reviewers get another look. So there is a discussion, albeit one in private. Given the nature of some of the things reviewers find (errors of one sort or another, or simple lack of clarity), I suspect many authors are happy to have it this way. Of course there can be bad reviews, but it should be the editors job to ignore them.

      Comment by S F McGinley on July 7th, 2013

      And among those abuses is the sheer viciousness of comments — in old school on paper peer review,  professional courtesy sometimes disappears and peer review can feel like getting trolled.


  • sustainability (6 comments)

    • Comment by amandafrench on September 23rd, 2009

      This is such an important and marvelous book: there’s no doubt that it will be much-discussed and much-admired. It so gracefully brings together three or four ordinarily disparate discourses: that of literary theory, that of information technology, that of library science, and that of university publishing and administration. It is keen, lyrical, and above all, right: unprovably and yet undoubtedly right in its final recommendation. Many thanks and congratulations — for all our sakes, I hope this work will effect the change it recommends.

      Comment by Toby Green on October 2nd, 2009

      ALPSP, the Association of Learned, Professional and Society Publishers, offers its members (some of whom are US University Presses) two collaboration services – one for journals and the other for books. They are particularly attractive for smaller publishers who are unable to build, maintain and sell online services on a global basis.

      Comment by Toby Green on October 2nd, 2009

      There is one significant danger when becoming a service unit – he who pays the piper calls the tune. In some International Organisations the in-house press is a service unit and has to ‘serve’ the authors. This leads to the presses having to publish works which are poorly edited and often expensively produced because the press is unable to control author vanity. Examples of four colour printing when one would do and ridiculous print runs are common wasting precious resources which could have been used to support less well funded authors. But the bigger problem is that these presses become so author/institution-focussed they cannot invest in reader-facing services. And failing to serve readers means failing to meet dissemination objectives and leads ultimately to a reduction of the mother institution’s reputation. Focussing on cost-recovery is a good discipline for keeping costs well-managed and eliminating waste – but if the costs are borne by the author the publisher will lose control unless strict safeguards and policies are in place to control author/institutional vanity. It is wrong, in my view, to put the press in the same category as the library or the IT centre. Neither the library nor the IT centre has clients around the globe who are unconnected with the parent institution. Neither has to build a global network of marketing and sales partners to service these clients. To succeed, the press must serve its readers as well as its authors.

      Comment by amandafrench on October 5th, 2009

      The larger point, that a university press responsible for publishing its own university faculty’s work shouldn’t become too inward-facing, is a good one. It would behoove such a press to institute measures up front to ensure that authors receive reasonable and equitable services from the press. But the examples you cite as evidence of danger don’t seem to have much to do with the kind of press that Kathleen is envisioning: there’s no such thing as four-color printing on the Internet, for instance, and Kathleen specifically says that “the most successful potential business model of the digital age is not necessarily the sale of closed, proprietary content,” so I don’t envision “a global network of marketing and sales partners” in this new model press.

      Comment by amandafrench on October 12th, 2009

      I had a random thought today about this model for university-based scholarly publishing. As you know I’m all for the proposal that individual universities take responsibility for publishing the work of their own faculty — but the random thought that occurred to me is this: Maybe that’s not a big enough scale for the digital era. Projects like Wikipedia and Google Book Search and so on function on the massive, global scale, and perhaps that’s the only sustainable model for scholarly publishing, as well. If the ACLS or the AAUP were, as a body, to create some huge platform for publishing *all* scholarly monographs, I bet it’d be more sustainable even than the model you propose. One infrastructure would resolve a number of the technological problems about how to make books truly digital items (with hyperlinked bibliographies and so on), and it’d resolve that problem you address later about what small institutions without university presses are to do.

      Such a project would be massive, of course, and would require a lot of money from NEH, Mellon, and who knows who all. And then too it might be even harder to get universities and/or faculty to participate.

      […] mondo della stampa, quando un editore falliva, i suoi libri gli sopravvivevano. Ma quando fallisce un progetto di pubblicazione digitale, tutto il suo patrimonio rischia di sparire. E per quanto, liberando i testi per l’accesso aperto, si possa sperare da trar guadagno dai […]

  • community-based filtering (6 comments)

    • Comment by Katherine Rowe on October 19th, 2009

      I am finding this section quite powerful.

      Comment by Gene Golovchinsky on November 30th, 2009

      I love the sentence “Scholarly communication, generally speaking, is <i>all</i> tail…”

      Comment by Nick Mirzoeff on February 8th, 2010

      I have a feeling that ‘excellence’ has been replaced by ‘research’ as in ‘world-class research,’ a phrase I hear all the time as if it explained itself. Research is an end in itself, validated by the award of research grants and is therefore quantifiable. Medical school faculty are now often expected to generate a minimum quantity of research funds–or have their salary cut.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on February 16th, 2010

      Interesting — so we’re becoming focused on the mere fact that research is being done?  Or “research” as a euphemism for grants and patents?

      Comment by George Carr on February 17th, 2010

      By January 2010, the site’s article count is up to only 178, truly paltry.  So your point about the lack of focus being fatal is well taken.

      Comment by Jenna Pack on February 6th, 2011

      I’m also wondering if it could be an issue of knowledge about this site. Perhaps many scholars are unaware of its existence. Similarly, I think there’s still a fear of intellectual property rights, etc., with disseminating one’s work online in an open peer review format (or just distributing your work online in general). Scholars who publish on this site are not getting paid, correct? They are similarly not going to get the same kind of status they would get from publishing in a blind PR’ed journal. This obviously feeds into the exact concerns you deal with, which need to be changed. Yet, I do think some of these concerns must also contribute to the lack of work published on Philica.

  • traditional peer review and its defenses (6 comments)

    • Comment by David Parry on September 22nd, 2009

      Ironically this is perhaps descriptive of the current state of academic writing and publishing.

      Comment by Maria Bustillos on October 7th, 2009

      “One might […] invoke the concept of prematurity here–and see the nineteenth-century observations of Goethe, Herschel, Weir Mitchell, Tourette, and Verrey as having come before their times, so that they could not be integrated into contemporary conceptions.  Gunther Stent, writing about ‘prematurity’ in scientific discovery, says, ‘A discovery is premature if its implications cannot be connected by a series of simple logical steps to canonical, or generally accepted, knowledge.’  He discusses this in relation to the classical case of Mendel, and the lesser known but fascinating case of Oswald Avery (who discovered DNA in 1944–a discovery totally overlooked at the time, because of a lack of knowledge that would have enabled scientists to appreciate its importance.”  (Oliver Sacks, ‘Scotoma, Neglect and Forgetting in Science,’ collected in Hidden Histories of Science, NYRB 1995.) 

      As I read your book, what is constantly occurring to me is that opening up scholarly work to a wider field of “peers,” if this were gone about in the right way, could do much to eliminate canonical bias and bring new ideas to light way faster and more efficiently.  Really exciting to think about.

      Comment by michaelroy on October 29th, 2009

      Again, i would say that turning up the volume is in order. When you conclude “This can, of course, be rationalized as the inevitable, unenviable fate of genius in a world of mediocrity” , it might also be worth noting that obsolescence has its costs, namely that the maintenance funds often get redirected to the non-obsolete. I worry that you aren’t hitting the high notes about just exactly what is at stake, which is more than the future of the book, but really the future of educational institutions.

      Comment by Paul F. Gehl on January 17th, 2010

      Bingo. This last sentence about rationalization is an elegant throwaway. At the very least michalroy is right that you need to emphasize how wrongheaded and irresponsible such responses are. Power and prestige can only be well defended –assuming they deserve it– if they can take the heat of criticism and come up with alternative forms of validation.

      Comment by Nick Mirzoeff on February 8th, 2010

      Not to mention blog and other web publishing!

      Comment by abhardy on October 29th, 2012

      I’d like to pick up on Gehl’s phrase “alternative forms of validation.” In reading this book and related essays on the future of publishing, I’ve been concerned about the idea of pandering to the public, and the market (even though, I realise you talk about alternate market structures later in the book). I’d like to see future iterations of this text that address more directly what alternative validation and valuation really look like beyond the closed system. 

  • database-driven scholarship (6 comments)

    • Comment by amandafrench on September 23rd, 2009

      Omeka now has OAI-PMH ingest capabilities (also a CSV importer), which does move it very much in the direction you’re pointing. It’s funny; I was talking with a archival management student about that very point earlier today. Omeka bills itself also as a means for creating an “online archive,” but whereas a physical archive is essentially defined by the fact that it contains unique items, a digital archive made with Omeka can in fact consist entirely of an aggregation of formerly dispersed materials. And part of the point of assembling such an “archive” is so that people may reuse its objects in other aggregations.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 25th, 2009

      Very cool — thanks for the info!

      Comment by Dorothea Salo on September 28th, 2009

      You may be planning to get to this point later, but the atomization you speak of has serious negative implications for the sustainable preservation of the work. A multiplicity of formats, content models, and technology platforms makes the digital preservationist’s job much harder. We have lost many early primary-text databases already, and stand to lose more, for this reason.

      […] Kathleen Fitzpatrick, “Database Driven Scholarship”: http://mcpress.media-commons.org/plannedobsolescence/three-texts/database-driven-scho… This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← Electronic Resources: […]

      Comment by lydia on May 27th, 2014

      This almost seems like a social networking for scholarly work.

      Comment by m1215 on May 26th, 2015

      The insularity of digital humanities was never really something that occurred to me before, even as I explored various, independent projects.There are obvious benefits to a more interconnected DH where searching and reuse can create new knowledge. I can also think of a number of reasons why atomization has occurred and why it’s still the landscape in 2015. The issue discussed in the paragraph of emerging technology,the inability to communicate across platforms,  and an absence of standards, almost reminds me of how the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) metadata scheme came about. Is that along the lines of something Digital Humanists should be looking at? Do many Digital Humanist see atomization as a problem? Feel that project integration and reuse could be beneficial? I’m curious to get a pulse on this now.

  • commentpress (6 comments)

    • Comment by David Parry on September 27th, 2009

      Blogs do not necessarily have to privilege immediacy, with newest post appearing first, several do not. I realize this is a minor quibble, but it points out the degree to which social convention has quickly come to appear natural, or intrinsic to the form, in the same way that something like page numbers or chapters seem natural to the codex.

      Comment by carrual on February 10th, 2010

      So, here, I wonder why CommentPress limits its smallest scale to the paragraph – thus fixing the “long-form text” to a structure of the book (as it evolved after the 18th century in particular). Less abstractly, throughout reading your work on MediaCommonsPress, I have been wanting to comment on words, phrases, sentences, etc.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on February 16th, 2010

      I think it’s mostly a matter of programming ease; the CommentPress engine looks for paragraph breaks, and then assigns everything between them a database identifier; paragraph-level comments then get linked to that identifier.  Anything more targeted that that would, I think, require commenting outside of the WordPress engine altogether.  There are a number of marginal commenting projects (many of them operating via Firefox plugins) that are available, but, to my knowledge, in all of them the database of comments is kept separate from the text itself.  So the challenge will be for someone to build a publishing engine that allows for flexible marginalia but that keeps text and comments preserved together.

      […] the Book, for example, has been experimenting with a communal reading plugin for WordPress called CommentPress: CommentPress … seeks to promote dialogue within and around long-form texts in two primary […]

      Comment by jennirussell08 on March 3rd, 2013

      As a student, I like the idea of being able to comment on individual sentences, despite the programming drawbacks that it could cause on the website.  If I were analyzing a text for class, much like we are with this text, I would like to see what my peers thought about more specific ideas instead of paragraphs.  It would give us an opportunity for more focused discussions/debates in fewer words at a time.

      […] CommentPress – Planned Obsolescence – http://mcpress.media-commons.org/plannedobsolescence/three-texts/commentpress/ […]

  • authorship and technology (5 comments)

    • Comment by David Parry on September 26th, 2009

      The author function has always been a network effect. We just needed the paradigm of networks to see this.

      Comment by David Parry on September 26th, 2009

      Strong point, I hadn’t really thought of it in these terms before. Two other network principles that seem to play in here, which might run counter to traditional academic values.

      Delay and Include
      Be Liberal with what you accept, Conservative with what you Produce.

      Comment by George Carr on February 17th, 2010

      You might want to re-consider using the music business as an example of a long-established industry.  The business model being ravaged by digital sharing – the sale of physical objects storing sound recordings – has only been in place since the 1930s, when its revenues began to exceed the revenues from sheet-music publishing.  Fascinating overview of this industry shift (and the ongoing return to the previous business model) in Wald’s How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘n Roll, published just last year.

      Comment by jennirussell08 on March 3rd, 2013

      I really like that this passage and the preceding paragraph call the reader to personally reevaluate themself as a writer.  The monumental changes that have affected the literary world, even SINCE the technological revolution, require an author to observe the new opportunities available to them.  Instead of being overwhelmed by the infinite pathways and tools at your fingertips for writing, it seems best to focus on ourselves and maintaining our personal image and style.

      Comment by kiahbf on March 4th, 2013

      This is a fascinating example of the way that technologies have changed the way that writers interact with the creation and development of their work. You suggest that word processors create more spontaneous and fluid documents than the stop-and-start method of longhand or a typewriter, which might create more “drafts” but less cohesion. I wonder what difference collaborative online methods like Google Docs will have on a new generation of writers? In an era where the creative process is increasingly public, the act of writing itself becomes more like a conversation. You raise a lot of really interesting questions about how the process of writing changes when the format changes.

  • Three: Texts (5 comments)

    • Comment by Jeni jones on March 1st, 2013

      This paragraph really brings up the issue of design in text and not in digital books. Being an artist it really effects my opinion of the transition to e-book. Personally I can see both side but I still prefer books to an iPad or nook.

      Comment by Aisling on May 27th, 2014

       The discussion of “multimodal texts” immediately made me reconsider the definition of “texts.” Will we have to come up with a new term to encompass the multimodal nature of these “things”? 

      Comment by arf54 on May 28th, 2014

      The idea of new textual structures reminds me of Tumblr tags. Bloggers often use the tags,  a space designed for metadata, as a way of creating parenthetical speech and carrying on conversations with the audience, their followers. That’s a great example of network-based publishing that users mold to suit their own textual and conversational needs.

      Comment by cro on June 10th, 2014

       We must remember that although the mediums of literacy and the passage of knowledge may change forms (orally, scrolls, codex, to code), the idea still remains the same in the transference of knowledge. In the case with the collaborative effort for annotating a prepublished online text, which is one of the true goals of DH and that of a collaborative cultural effort-the original creators must navigate wisely concerning the comments left so as not to detract from the authors original intentions.

      Comment by Nathan on May 26th, 2015

      This paragraph prompts me to consider the implications of the hyperlink on a variety of new levels never considered before today. The statement sounds naive, but my consumption and interaction with the hyperlink has indeed become “invisible” in those ways.

  • credentialing, revisited (4 comments)

    • Comment by David Parry on September 26th, 2009

      First, can we just put an exclamation point on this whole paragraph.

      Second, I wonder how what you are sketching here could also be applied to other areas of the tenure review process, such as teaching and service. 

      Third, and this is beyond the scope of your argument but I’ll raise the question: To what extent might the tenure system itself be heterogenous to the new network information architecture.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 1st, 2009

      That last question is a huge one, and one that demands really careful thinking through.  I’m not sure I have any good answers now, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to work them into this project, but there’s definitely more that needs to be written on that issue.

      Comment by apologetic_pedant on September 2nd, 2010

      Is there a missing word in the (first part of) last sentence of this paragraph?

      In many ways this is clicking so well with so much, thanks for the conversation!

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on September 2nd, 2010

      Ooh, how did I miss that? It should be “demonstrate,” not “demonstrative.”

  • Spiro, Second Review (3 comments)

    • Comment by Monica McCormick on December 8th, 2009

      If you decide to use Vectors as an example, it’s worth considering whether that collaborative process can be widely replicated. It is presumably expensive to provide individual design and programming services for each work that appears in Vectors. There are also questions about the long-term viability of the products: if they’re created in Flash (as I believe they are) will they be readable in 10 or 50 or 100 years?

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on December 8th, 2009

      This, it seems to me, is the $64,000 question: how can self-sustaining scholarly communities be developed and fostered, such that they can take on the kinds of responsibility — and labor — that I’m proposing?

      Comment by krowe on December 26th, 2009

      Barbara Fisher blogs about the obligations of universities (the prospect of UPs and libraries joining forces), assessing PO from a librarian’s perspective.


  • Five: The University (3 comments)

  • Spiro, Preliminary Review (3 comments)

    • Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on December 8th, 2009

      I originally received this review shortly after it was written, when I was in the midst of drafting the book.  (Chapter 1 was pretty much fully drafted, at that point, as was an article that grew into chapter 3.)  Many of the suggestions here were of great help as I structured the work I still had ahead of me.

      There are parts of this advice, though, that I’d completely forgotten about, and to which I think I need to return as I begin revising…

      […] willing to participate in our online process, and happily, one of them agreed; Lisa Spiro’s preliminary and second-round reviews are now up alongside the manuscript, available for reader […]

      Comment by Seth Chaiken on June 4th, 2012

      Acrobat is not free/open source software.  Adobe publishes no-cost readers but to make annotations, you must buy acrobat.

  • lockss, clockss, portico (3 comments)

    • Comment by kkraus on September 26th, 2009

      Lynch was asking some prescient questions back in 2001, no?  The question about the right to loan or give away an e-book is particularly topical in the way it gets at the current tension between copyright law and contract law.  Do EULAs essentially nullify the first-sale doctrine, for example, which provides the legal basis for the right to give a used book to a friend, donate it to a library, or sell it to a second-hand bookstore.  Similarly, can EULAs and Terms of Service agreements contract away fair use rights?

      Comment by Natalia Cecire on November 29th, 2009

      I know this is nitpicking, but I find the Frost reference really jarring, because Frost is so clearly on the side of the “something” that “doesn’t love a wall”:

      We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
      Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
      One on a side. It comes to little more:
      There where it is we do not need the wall:
      He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
      My apple trees will never get across
      And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
      He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.

      I’m kind of thinking a wall isn’t the greatest metaphor for an archive in any case.

      Here concludes the nitpicking.

      […] risorse in un archivio distribuito “chiaro”, cioè aperto al pubblico. Il suo omologo PORTICO, invece, propone un archivio proprietario centralizzato basato su software anch’esso […]

  • locators (3 comments)

    • Comment by Sean Gillies on January 11th, 2010

      The problem with URLs isn’t inherent fragility but that we often don’t get the identifier space of our information architecture straight before we begin to publish resources on the web [1]. Major web “properties” like Wikipedia can and do maintain their URLs as their infrastructures change. 9 years ago http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computing was served by a Perl CGI script on a single server. Now it’s served by 200 application servers, 20 database servers and 70 cache servers [1]. Wikipedia’s data has moved many times, yet the original URL still exists, now redirecting to a language-specific variant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computing in my case). Maintaining the original URL is Wikipedia’s policy. Nine years might not seem very long to a librarian, but there’s no technical reason why (given funding) that policy can’t continue indefinitely, even if Wikipedia grew tenfold, physically relocated their data center, switched to app servers written in Erlang, or switched from Squid to Varnish.

      [1] http://www.w3.org/Provider/Style/URI
      [2] http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2008/06/24/a-look-inside-wikipedias-infrastructure/

      Comment by Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg on November 11th, 2010

      Just a copy edit to offer here. In the quote from Manoff, “insure” ought to read “ensure.” If this error is in the original, perhaps a “[sic]” is in order.

      […] scientifiche devono fare i conti con la mobilità delle risorse digitali, e la conseguente instabilità degli URL Occorre dunque un sistema di identificatori che si risolvano dinamicamente nell’URL, […]

  • External Reviews (2 comments)

  • General Comments (2 comments)

    • Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on November 23rd, 2009

      By clicking on the single comment balloon icon above, you can leave general comments addressing the text as a whole.  Don’t forget that there’s also a reader blog attached to the book, so that you can discuss the text in a more extensive and free-form fashion!

      Comment by Julie on December 9th, 2009

      Dear Media Dept / Webmaster,

      I wanted to compliment you on your site and the insight you provide into the publishing world.  As well, I’d like to introduce myself, I am an Communications Assistant for The Mark News (http://www.themarknews.com) in Toronto. I thought you might be interested in a number of articles that we’ve just published on the technology, book and publishing industries, namely,

      “The Mother of All Prizes” by Patrick Crean, found here: http://www.themarknews.com/articles/681-the-mother-of-all-prizes
      “All That’s Old is New Again” by Mark Lefebvre, found here: http://www.themarknews.com/articles/730-all-thats-old-is-new-again and
      “Death of Paperbound Books” by Shannon Dyck, found here: http://www.themarknews.com/articles/219-the-death-of-paperbound-books

      Feel free to browse the articles. We’d be happy to share them with your readers by publishing them on your site(s), just please link back to us!  Let me know what you think.


  • the history of the university press (2 comments)

    • […] biblioteche a causa dell’altissimo prezzo degli abbonamenti alle riviste.  Applicato alle University Press, questo modello sarebbe suicida, perché farebbe seccare un ramo vitale dell’istituzione per […]

      Comment by Leopoldo Basurto on September 30th, 2014

      En las universidades públicas de México, las tres funciones sustantivas son Docencia, Investigación y Difusión de la Cultura.

  • cost (2 comments)

    • Comment by Natalia Cecire on November 29th, 2009

      Agreed — and therein lies the confusing nature of the wall metaphor.

      […] faccia qualcun altro, o che qualcun altro approfitterà del loro lavoro senza dare nulla in cambio, non la farà nessuno. LOCKSS organizza in forma digitale il sistema della libera moltiplicazione delle copie che ci ha […]

  • Notes (1 comment)

    • Comment by Barbara Fister on November 29th, 2009

      It’s also interesting that the report says reading is on the rise in its title, but in fact the stats show that reading of books is not on the rise; the reading of fiction as a percentage of the books read is on the rise, but reading in aggregate is not. The most interesting thing about these reports is the way they frame anxiety about reading. The data are not particularly useful because the definition of reading is peculiarly limited to reading not done in connection with any particular purpose (college students who read enormous amounts for courses are “non-readers” by this definition) and because “literature” is defined by form: fiction, poetry, and plays.

  • the rise of the author (1 comment)

  • bibliography, n-s (1 comment)

Comments on the Blog

  • Zombies! (5 comments)

    • Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on January 4th, 2010

      Note to self: there’s at least one too many “the suggestion that”s in this paragraph…

      Comment by Natalia Cecire on January 4th, 2010

      I like this, but I think you could stake out an even bigger claim here. Part of the argument of this book is that scholarship per se cannot and should not be thought of apart from scholarly communication. So while the relationship between zombie publishing and a zombie profession isn’t, I agree, strictly causal, it’s also more than just “no[t]… unrelated.” The zombie university consumes braaaains at an amazing rate, yet lacks autonomy. It’s thus unable to make any use of brains as such: brains that think, make decisions, write Ph.D. dissertations, and try to get a first monograph published are turned into braaaains, an undifferentiated mass of intellectual labor ready to be consumed. That’s the anxiety incited by the zombie university, which is not only undead (like the undead but urbane vampire) but also inarticulate, unable to speak except to cry out for more braaaains. To rehabilitate the university would first of all entail restoring its ability to speak.

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on January 5th, 2010

      You completely rock.  That’s really brilliant, Natalia… and exactly right.  Thanks so much!

      Comment by Paul Levinson on January 7th, 2010

      Looks like a fascinating, important book.  Best of luck with it!

      Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on January 7th, 2010

      Thanks so much!

  • Technical Stuff Happening (1 comment)

    • Comment by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on October 2nd, 2009

      Okay, all’s well now.  And you may notice a small addition in the toolbar at left: “Group Members,” which links to a list of all registered users of the site.  I’m still trying to figure out whether there’s a way to turn that list into live links to member pages, but more on that soon.

Source: http://mcpress.media-commons.org/plannedobsolescence/all-comments/